February 27, 2019 / 7:01 PM / 6 months ago

Bulgarian sentenced to jail in case of 71 migrants dying in truck

FILE PHOTO: Flowers and candles are placed at the site where a refrigerated truck with decomposing bodies was found by an Austrian motorway patrol near the Hungarian border on Thursday, near Parndorf, Austria, August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - A Bulgarian man was sentenced on Wednesday to 4 years and 8 months in prison by a Hungarian court for human trafficking in connection with the death of 71 migrants in a truck in August 2015, the Hungarian state news agency MTI said.

The migrants, including eight women and four children, suffocated in the lorry and were found dead beside an Austrian motorway near Parndorf.

While 39-year-old Bulgarian, who was not identified, as is usual in Hungarian court cases, was not directly involved in the Parndorf case, he was convicted of recruiting two of the main defendants as people-smugglers.

He took part in organized human trafficking and he roped in at least six smugglers, MTI said.

The ruling is final as neither the prosecutors or the defendant appealed against it.

Last year the same court sentenced three Bulgarians and an Afghan to 25 years in jail in the same case, but those rulings are not final, pending any appeal.

The migrants who died were among the hundreds of thousands of people from war-torn and poor regions in the Middle East, Asia and Africa, who headed through the Balkans and Hungary toward Western Europe in 2015.

Reporting by Sandor Peto; Editing by Alison Williams

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