Six people accused of killing 18 migrants in a truck in Bulgaria | Bulgaria

Bulgarian authorities have charged six people with human trafficking after 18 Afghan migrants were found dead inside an abandoned truck near the capital Sofia on Friday.

Prosecutors believe the truck was abandoned near the village of Lokorsko after the driver and a companion discovered that many of the 52 migrants hidden in the truck had vertigo and some had already died.

The migrants were hidden in a compartment lined with aluminum foil inside the truck, which was supposed to transport wood.

Despite hearing loud bangs in the cab, the driver refused to stop the truck, head of the National Investigative Service and deputy prosecutor Borislav Sarafov told reporters.

The truck driver and the person accompanying him were also accused of killing the migrants, according to prosecutors.

The 18 victims died due to lack of oxygen and difficulty breathing, as they had been crammed into the truck “like a can of sardines”, Sarafov said.

“The victims died slowly and painfully,” he added.

“This case shows extreme insensitivity and demonstrates that migrants are seen only as merchandise that had to move from one place to another, regardless of whether they are alive or dead,” he said.

The other 34 migrants, who were taken to hospital on Friday, remain stable, according to authorities.

Five of the accused are being held, while one of the trafficking suspects, who managed to flee the country, is being sought. A European arrest warrant has been issued.

According to prosecutors, the trafficking network had removed the migrants from the border with Turkey, continuing their journey through Bulgaria and Serbia. From there, they would continue their journey to destinations such as the United Kingdom, Germany or France.

The deaths shocked Bulgaria on Friday. It was one of the worst incidents of its kind on the route used by migrants from the Middle East and Afghanistan to enter the European Union.

In 2015, three Bulgarian drivers were arrested and later charged with the deaths of 71 migrants found in a truck in Austria.

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