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German court jails two people-smugglers over 2015 influx

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German court jails two people-smugglers over 2015 influx
A Syrian boy resting beside a lorry in September 2015 close to the border with Slovenia and Croatia. Photo: DPA.
16:45 CEST+02:00
A German court convicted two human traffickers on Tuesday of putting the lives of hundreds of asylum seekers at risk while transporting them at the height of the refugee influx in 2015.

The first defendant, aged 28, was jailed for six years and nine months on six counts of people smuggling, while his 27-year-old accomplice was handed a sentence of three years and three months for two counts, a court spokeswoman said.

The sentences for the two Romanian men in the dock in the southern German border city of Passau, whose names were not provided by the court, were shorter than what prosecutors had requested.

The judges found the men had crammed 223 Syrian and Iraqi asylum seekers, including children, into the cargo area of lorries under "completely inappropriate" conditions in July and August 2015.

Prosecutors said they were paid €500 per person for the trip from Budapest, their first stop in the European Union on the so-called Balkan route, to Germany.

The men were arrested in August 2016 in Romania.

Migration to Europe soared in 2015, as people desperate to flee the worsening conflict in Syria risked their lives attempting the dangerous crossing.

Germany took in nearly 900,000 people that year alone.

In a separate case in the German state of Bavaria, three alleged people-smugglers went on trial Tuesday in Traunstein accused of bringing hundreds of refugees to Germany in late 2015 and early 2016.

At least six children drowned in the illicit boat crossings from Turkey to Greece.

The Syrian and Iraqi defendants, aged between 30 and 43, are believed to be part of a larger people-smuggling ring.

A verdict is expected on November 27th.

READ ALSO: Three Syrians stand trial in Bavaria over refugee boat disaster

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