The district court in the Bulgarian town of Montana has ordered the extradition to Austria of a Bulgarian man facing charges in connection with the deaths of 71 refugees whose bodies were found in a refrigeration lorry on a motorway near Vienna in late August.
Tsvetan Tsvetanov – no relation to the former interior minister of the same name – of the north-western town of Lom was taken into custody a month ago on the basis of a European arrest warrant.
According to prosecutors in Austria, Tsvetanov is part of a people-trafficking channel to Western Europe. Tsvetanov denies wrongdoing and said that he wanted to be extradited to prove his innocence in the Austrian court.
On August 27, a refrigeration lorry with a Hungarian registration was found a motorway in Austria near the Hungarian border. Inside were the corpses of 59 men, eight women and four children who had fled the war in Syria.
Initial forensic examinations found that the people had died from asphyxiation. Some reports have suggested that the refugees were already dead when the lorry crossed the border from Hungary into Austria.
Subsequently, a group of Bulgarians and a citizen of Afghanistan were arrested and appeared in court in connection with the case.