Austria wants Hungary to take over refugee truck deaths probe
VIENNA, Austria – Austrian authorities said Thursday, September 8, they had asked Hungary to take over the probe into the deaths of 71 migrants found in a truck on an Austrian motorway in August and thought to have suffocated shortly after leaving Budapest.
Prosecutors in the eastern Burgenland state, where the gruesome cargo was discovered, were seeking a "centralized investigation of the entire criminal procedure through the Hungarian justice system", spokesman Roland Koch told Agence France-Presse.
The badly decomposing bodies of the 59 men, eight women and four children were found on August 27 inside an abandoned refrigerator truck on the A4 motorway, close to the Hungarian border.
Investigations revealed that the migrants – mostly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – had been picked up at Hungary's border with Serbia and transported to Austria.
An autopsy showed they had most likely suffocated while still in Hungary.
The government there has taken a controversially hard-line stance against migration amid Europe's worst such crisis since World War II.
So far, six people have been detained in connection with the case, which sparked international revulsion and highlighted the plight of migrants and refugees putting their lives in the hands of human traffickers to reach Europe.
But Koch said Austrian police would drop an arrest warrant against one of the suspects, a 32-year-old detained in Bulgaria who was due to be extradited to Austria.
The man was no longer a suspect in the case, Koch confirmed.
Another five men, four Bulgarians and an Afghan, are under arrest in Hungary over the tragedy.
More than half of the migrants have now been identified, an official source said.
Four of the victims were buried in a cemetery in Vienna on Wednesday. – Rappler.com
We keep you informed because you matter
We tell you the stories that matter. We ask, we probe, we explain.
But as we strive to do all this and speak truth to power, we face constant threats to our independence.
Help us make a difference through free and fearless journalism. With your help, you enable us to keep providing you with our brand of compelling and investigative work.
Joining Rappler PLUS allows us to build communities of action with you. PLUS members will receive our editorial newsletters and industry reports, get to join exclusive online conversations with our award-winning journalists, and be part of our monthly events.
Make your move now. Join Rappler PLUS.