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Coroner: Refugees locked in lorry died a torturous death

Europe
21.11.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Budapest (dpa) - The 71 refugees crammed into a lorry found on an Austrian highway in August 2015 suffered a gruesome death from suffocation, a coroner testified on Tuesday in the trial of alleged smugglers.

The victims, closed into the lorry‘s refrigerator container, may have survived in the crowded confinement up to three hours, an expert told the courtroom in Keckemet, in southern Hungary. "Death from such suffocation was particularly torturous," he said.

The lorry began its journey in Morahalom, just across Hungary‘s border with Serbia. An hour and a half later, the low oxygen level already caused breathing difficulties and headaches for the people sealed inside. 

Three hours into the journey, there could have been no survivors inside, the expert said. At that point, the vehicle was still on Hungarian soil, so though the vehicle and the victims were found on a highway in Austria, the case was handed to Hungary.

The trial of 10 Bulgarians and one Afghan national accused as a gang of smugglers of being responsible for the deaths of 59 men, eight women and four children - all Syrians, Iraqis or Afghans - began in June and is expected to last into 2018.

Three Bulgarians and the Afghan national were charged with multiple homicide under especially gruesome circumstances, a crime that can carry lifelong imprisonment without the possibility of early release.

The defendants are believed to have smuggled around 1,200 refugees to Austria during the migration crisis along the Balkan route.

 

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