Traffickers sentenced to 25 years for leaving migrants to suffocate to death in packed truck

A Hungarian court has sentenced four men belonging to a people smuggling gang to 25 years in prison for their role in the deaths of 71 migrants three years ago.

The 59 men, eight women and four children died after being packed into a small, sealed lorry on a hot day in August 2015 in Hungary.

Unable to breath they suffocated within hours of getting onto the lorry, which was later found abandoned near the Austrian village of Parndorf packed with their decomposing corpses.

Their deaths, which came at the height of the migration crisis that gripped Europe that year, shocked the continent and shone a spotlight on the activities of the people smuggling trade.

Presiding over the court in the town of Kecskemet Judge Janos Jadi said Samsoor Lahoo, a 31-year-old Afghan and the gang’s ringleader, and three Bulgarians, had been found guilty “aggravated murder” and therefore merited the 25-year term.

The 71 migrants died after being packed into a small, sealed lorry on a hot day in August 2015 Credit:
Ronald Zak/AP

“They knew the truck was packed, they knew that families and mothers with children were in the truck and that the people inside could die,” Judge Jadi said. “They died in cruel circumstances, in a lot of suffering. But none of the defendants did anything.”

Lahoo along with his accomplices had denied the charges and expressed remorse over the deaths but the court heard that they had ignored the shouts and banging from inside the lorry as the people, desperate for air, began to die.

The deaths, at the height of the migrant crisis, shocked the continent Credit:

Police intercepts of phone calls made by the gang apparently catch Lahoo ordering one of the men driving the lorry “to let them die” rather than opening the doors.

“If they die, let him dump them in a forest in Germany,” he added.

Prosecutor Gabor Schmidt said Lahoo had shown “endless greed and “frightening indifference” to the people in the lorry who had paid up to £1,300 per head for his services.

The court also found 11 other men from the same gang guilty of other charges, and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from three to 12 years. All the convicted have the right to an appeal.end

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