A tunnel under the Hungarian-Serbian border – Photo: police.hu

Syrian smugglers charged in S Hungary

Five Syrian men have been charged with trafficking migrants as part of a criminal organisation, a district prosecutor's office in southern Hungary said on Wednesday.

The suspects are accused of smuggling more than 60 migrants, who crossed the Serbian-Hungarian and Croatian-Hungarian borders illegally to western Europe, as members of an organised criminal group over the past two years, with Austria, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden as final destinations.

A Syrian man suspected of having set up the criminal group had a residence permit in Germany, while the other suspects had residence permits in other western European countries.

Before reaching the Hungarian-Austrian border, the suspects told the migrants to cross the border on foot, and then they all met up at a pre-arranged location in Austria for their onward bound journey.

The organiser provided the migrants with mobile phones and sim cards, while the suspects regularly changed their phones to avoid detection by the authorities.

The migrants paid for the illegal services using Hawala via a person known to the organiser. One of the suspects used a fake Greek driving licence as well as a rented car with fake registration documents for which forgery charges also apply.

The prosecutor’s office in Baja is seeking prison sentences without parole for the accused. After serving their sentences, the suspects would be expelled from the country.

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