Hungary Jails Traffickers for Life Over Lorry Migrant Deaths
A court in Hungary imprisoned three Bulgarians and one Afghan for life over the deaths of 71 refugees who perished in a lorry in August 2015. In the so-called Parndorf death van case, which made waves internationally, the migrants suffocated in a refrigerator truck while trying to get from Hungary to Germany. Austrian police found the lorry on the highway, close to the eastern Austrian village of Parndorf in Burgenland.
The drivers fled from the scene.
The investigation was carried out by the Hungarian authorities, as the crime was organized in Hungary. At the height of the refugee crisis in Europe, traffickers organized daily human transports in closed vehicles from the Hungarian border to Austria.
The gang had smuggled more than 1,100 people from Hungary into Austria since February 2015, charging up to 1,500 euros a head.
Medical experts said the victims - 59 men, eight women and four children - died horrible deaths. The drivers heard them screaming but were afraid to open the doors of the truck.
The first instance court sentenced the four main defendants to 25 years in jail. The sentence was changed to life in the second instance with no possibility of an appeal.
The Afghan leader of the criminal gang, Samsoor Lahoo, and two Bulgarian drivers were sentenced to "factual life imprisonment", a category introduced in Hungary in 1999 with no possibility of becoming free. The third Bulgarian was also sentenced to life, but with a possibility of being released after 30 years.
Another 10 defendants were sentenced to four to 12 years imprisonment for being part of the organized criminal network.