The top security officials of Germany, France and Britain are pressing for better processing of migrants arriving in southern Europe and for a European Union-wide list of countries considered safe.
German interior minister Thomas de Maiziere, France’s Bernard Cazeneuve and Britain’s Theresa May issued a statement after consulting in Paris the previous day. They stressed the need to set up “hotspots” in Greece and Italy by the year’s end to ensure migrants are fingerprinted and registered, allowing authorities to identify quickly those in need of protection.
Germany, which has seen many asylum requests this year from Balkan countries, is keen to identify “safe” countries to ease returning rejected asylum applicants.
The officials urged holding a special meeting of EU interior and justice ministers in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Hungarian police have detained a fifth man suspected of being involved in the deaths of 71 migrants found in a truck in neighbouring Austria.
The Bulgarian national was arrested on Saturday evening, a national police statement said. Police said they will seek to have him held in custody on suspicion of human trafficking, but gave no further details about him.
On Saturday, a court in the central Hungarian city of Kecskemet, where prosecutors say the truck departed, placed four other suspects under preliminary arrest pending possible indictment in the case.
The three Bulgarians and an Afghan were arrested on Thursday in southern Hungary, after the truck with the dead migrants was found earlier that day parked along the Budapest-to-Vienna highway.
Austrian experts are performing autopsies on the migrant victims — 59 men, eight women and four children.
Austrian police have said the migrants likely suffocated to death.
As of last night, 16 autopsies had been performed but there was no conclusive information yet on the cause of death, police spokeswoman Alexandra Hareter said. The process is expected to continue for several days.
The identity of the migrants remains unclear.
Police have set up a hotline for people who may have information on who was aboard the truck and also are hoping for clues from examining an unspecified number of cellphones found in the vehicle.
Investigators also found a Syrian passport in the truck.
“One can suspect that this was a Syrian group, or (that there were) a few Syrians,” Burgenland province police chief Hans Peter Doskozil told the Austria Press Agency. “But it could be mixed. We don’t know at this point.”
Meanwhile Pope Francis is urging people to work together to stop crimes against migrants, including the 71 who perished in the smuggler’s truck.
Pope Francis invited faithful in St Peter’s Square in Rome to pray silently with him for migrants who die “on their terrible journeys”. He also prayed that God would “help us to co-operate effectively to impede these crimes, which offend the entire human family”.
With Christians in Iraq, Nigeria and elsewhere fleeing persecution among the huge numbers of migrants seeking safety, the pope implored the international community to “do something to put an end to the violence and abuses” of power.
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