People smuggling trial continues

The trial of eight men accused of people smuggling continued into its 24th day in Wiener Neustadt on Wednesday.

People smuggling trial continues

The first of the defendants – who come from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India – did not deny helping compatriots, however he rejected accusations he had profited from his actions.

The man appeared annoyed while listening to wiretapped recordings of conversations conducted in Punjabi and Urdu, asking the judge to clarify what the charges were against him.

Presiding judge Petra Harbich responded by assuring him that "there are 74 charges."

Examination of the telephone surveillance tapes, which form the basis of the indictment, confirms only that the defendants had provided assistance to smuggle compatriots into Austria.

The recorded conversations are extremely cryptic.

Some excerpts from the translated discussions which have led to the charges of people smuggling include: "Money will come from the guys", "They are on the border, I want my money" and "Bring her home and tomorrow I will transfer you the money."

There is some controversy however over the accuracy of the translations, which were made by a police interpreter.

At the beginning of the trial, the majority of the defendants pleaded guilty to providing support to their countrymen.

On Wednesday, the first defendant, a 39 year-old Pakistani, told the judge he "could not say if I have helped one, two, three or four people – I have helped many, but if I had profited from it, you would have seen that already."

"I would own my own apartment., But I do not even have a bank account. I have not earned millions. If anything, I received ten euros with which I bought food and hashish. It was too little to live on and too much to die."

The trial against the asylum seekers – which has been running since March – continues on Thursday.

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