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17 refugees found crammed in back of minivan
The minivan into which 17 people were crammed. Photo: LPD NÖ

17 refugees found crammed in back of minivan

The Local · 7 Sep 2016, 15:47

Published: 07 Sep 2016 15:47 GMT+02:00

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The migrants were not allowed to leave the car during the journey and were even ordered to go to the toilet inside the vehicle. 

After a car driver spotted the minivan and alerted the police the authorities managed to stop the vehicle on the A4 motorway in Schwechat, southeast of the capital of Vienna. 

The men were arrested at the end of August but the incident has only been made public today.

Police officers were able to stop the Mercedes Vito, which has six or seven seats depending on the model. They also stopped a Fiat Punto which drove ahead of the minivan to scout the route. 

The minivan was driven by a 19-year-old people smuggler from Egypt, who had hidden 17 people from Syria and Afghanistan in the back, including children and a baby. The Fiat Punto was driven by two Syrian people smugglers aged 20 and 37.

Austrian officials discovered the refugees kneeling and squatting on the minivan floor. They were jammed together in an area of only 50 square feet. 

They told the police that when the people smugglers stopped to refuel, they were not allowed to move or leave the car. They also weren't allowed to eat or drink during the journey, and officers had to administer first aid to some of the group. 

The parents of an eight-month-old baby were forced to give their infant daughter sedatives so that she wouldn't cry and give the people smugglers away - and were told she would be left on the border if she was noisy. 

The refugees paid the people smugglers €5000 each, and €2,500 for each child. The trip would have earned the criminals a total of €75,000. 

The three men have been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking and are being held in pre-trial custody in Korneuburg.

Story continues below…

Story courtesy of Central European News. 

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