June 14 (UPI) — A court in Hungary sentenced four men to 25 years in prison each Thursday for their involvement in the deaths of 71 migrants who suffocated in the back of a semi-truck in 2015.
The leader of the group, Samsoor Lahoo, 31, and three Bulgarian accomplices, including his deputy, the truck driver and the driver of a car that escorted it, were sentenced to 25 years in prison for killing the migrants. Ten others received shorter jail times and all 14 were found guilty of people-smuggling.
Three Bulgarians charged in the case remain at large and were charged in absentia. Those who stood trial in the city of Kecskemet can appeal the verdict.
Police found the bodies of the victims, including 59 men, eight women and four children from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Iran, decomposing in the truck near an Austrian village in August 2015.
“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 Janos Jadi said. “They died in cruel circumstances, in a lot of suffering. But none of the defendants did anything.”
Lahoo can be heard instructing one of the men driving the truck to let the migrants die rather than open the doors in audio recordings of phone calls intercepted by police on the day of the deaths.
“If they die, let him dump them in a forest in Germany,” Lahoo said.
Prosecutors said the group was charging migrants about $4,100 each to smuggle them in the truck.
They smuggled at least 1,200 migrants into Austria via Hungary between February and August 2015, earning at least $347,437.