Hungary jails 10 migrants for up to 3 years for border crossing
Those convicted included 3 handicapped people, 1 of whom was rolled across the border in a wheelbarrow.
SZEGED - A Hungarian court on Friday sentenced 10 migrants to between one and three years in jail for illegally crossing the border during a riot in September 2015, after Hungary built a razor wire fence to seal its frontier with Serbia.
It was the first case to come to trial under a law passed days before the incident that made illegal border crossing as part of a rioting crowd punishable by between one and five years in prison.
Nearly half the more than one million migrants, mostly fleeing conflict in the Middle East, who surged into Europe last year in the continent's biggest movement of people since World War II passed through Hungary, often causing chaos at borders and along the main migration routes.
Prosecutors for Csongrad County on Friday charged two Romanians with human trafficking and one of them with attempted murder and excessive cruelty for trying to smuggle at least 106 migrants from Hungary to Austria in a lorry last June.
The unventilated truck was left abandoned in the summer heat, and the migrants only escaped by forcing open the doors.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has taken a tough line against migration, and says the European Union (EU) risks seeing other migration-weary member states follow Britain to the exit unless it does the same.
The mostly Syrian defendants convicted in Szeged, the capital of Csongrad, were part of a crowd that crossed into Hungary on 16 September as hundreds of migrants forced open the border gate while police responded with water cannon and tear gas.
Absolute chaos at Serbia Hungary border. Migrant crowds make way for fence while others beckon them to join sit in pic.twitter.com/r0SBhhA5JE— Russell Myers (@rjmyers) September 15, 2015
"The court deems them to be a part of the rioting crowd as they took advantage of the lack of control to enter Hungary and the EU," Judge Janos Arany told the court in his reasoning.
They were all due to be expelled after serving their terms, and barred from re-entering Hungary for several years.
Pressure on the border has decreased since a deal in March between the EU and Turkey to slow migration into Europe in exchange for financial assistance.
However, a steady trickle of migrants still passes through Hungary, with the total number close to 20,000 this year.
Those convicted included three handicapped people, one of whom was rolled across the border in a wheelbarrow by a helper.
These three had their sentences suspended.
Nine defendants received sentences of 12 or 14 months, meaning they could be released now or very shortly, having already been in jail for more than two-thirds of their sentences.
One defendant received a three-year sentence because he issued instructions to the rioters through a loudspeaker.