Human trafficking defines the trade of humans for sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation purposes, for the benefit of the trafficker or others. It is said that approximately 69% of suspected human traffickers are EU citizens, with most of them native to Bulgaria, Romania, Belgium, Germany, and Spain.
As previously reported, Syrian refugees have been migrating into the EU to flee their war-torn nation. This has met with increasing opposition; for example, Hungary is currently building a razor-wire fence to prevent migrants from entering the country. Despite all this, populations of Syrian migrants occupying ephemeral “transit zones” and camps in Hungary continues to rise. Many also sleep at Budapest’s Keleti station, intent on travelling to Austria and Germany via train. However, they are usually barred from boarding the trains, which leaves them no option but to put their faith in taxi, car, and truck drivers who claim that they will safely transport the migrants to the western European countries.
Yesterday, the bodies of 59 men, 8 women, and 4 children were found in the back of an abandoned lorry in Burgerstadt, Austria, on the A4 motorway from Budapest. An international criminal investigation into a suspected Bulgarian-Hungarian human trafficking ring has commenced, with three Bulgarian citizens and one Afghanistan now in Hungarian custody.
The lorry had presumably been driven from the Hungarian border, and it has been reported that its interior lining was ripped apart, which might mean that the victims had tried to escape before their deaths. Johann Fuchs, state prosecutor of Eisenstadt, commented: “We are talking about human trafficking, homicide, even murder.”
The 7.5-tonne lorry used to belong to the Slovak chicken meat company Hyza, with the slogan ‘Honest chicken’ still printed on one of its sides. The lorry was towed to a refrigerated facility on Thursday night, but because the bodies were badly decomposed, only limited information could be gleaned. The nationalities and ages of the victims are unknown, but officials do believe that they were refugees, because at least one Syrian travel document had been found inside the truck.
Hyza claimed that it sold the lorry last year. According to the Hungarian government, it is currently registered to a Romanian citizen. However, no Romanian citizens have been arrested, and officials say that the main suspect is a Bulgarian citizen originally from Lebanon. Twenty people have been questioned by police so far.
Austria citizens have been lighting candles in front of the police station in Eisenstadt, Austria to grieve those who suffered in tragedy.