The district court in the Bulgarian seaside town of Tsarevo has handed suspended sentences to two drivers of vans carrying illegal migrants.
One, a 37-year-old man from Bourgas who was found to be transporting nine Syrians, including three children, was sentenced to a year and a half in jail, suspended for four years, and a fine of 1500 leva.
The court case was conducted according to a fast-track procedure on September 3, a day after the two drivers were arrested.
Public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television reported that police wanted Bulgaria’s law against people-trafficking changed, because such fast-track trials usually resulted only in suspended sentences or fines.
On August 29, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov said that stricter measures against people-trafficking in Bulgaria were being discussed, including prison sentences and confiscation of property of public officials found to have acted as accomplices.
Meanwhile, on September 3, 39 migrants were detained following a report to authorities by residents of the village of Golyamo Bouchino in the Pernik region.
The migrants, a group of 20 men, 14 women and five children who were with their parents, were detained near the hunting lodge in the village. The group was taken into custody in the Second Police Department in Pernik.
Their identities were being checked and medical assistance provided, authorities said. The Bulgarian Red Cross provided water, food and hot drinks for the group.
Communication with the group was extremely difficult because only two speak English and then only very little.
The group said that they came from the refugee centre in Haskovo, but fingerprint checks established that only one did.