Iraqi man found dead in van linked to suspected human traffickers



An Iraqi man was found dead on Friday in a van used to smuggle a group of around 30 people through Germany.

The 32-year-old had been dead for “several hours” when police found the vehicle outside the town of Schoepstal in Saxony, near the border with Poland, police said.

About 30 people were also found crammed into the van.

The driver, who is believed to be a 42-year-old man, has fled and the police are chasing him. The driver of a second vehicle suspected of helping the smuggler, a 48-year-old man of Turkish origin, was arrested.

German authorities have recorded an increase in the number of people entering illegally from Poland in recent weeks, mainly via Belarus.

Many of those arrested by police are Iraqis and Syrians who flew to Belarus, then passed through Poland before heading to western Germany in the hope of seeking asylum there.

The EU has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko of transporting migrants from the Middle East and Africa to Minsk and then sending them on foot to the bloc in retaliation for sanctions imposed following a crackdown on opposition from the country.

In October alone, 4,890 migrants entered Germany from Poland via Belarus, German authorities said. To date, around 7,300 have entered the country.

A slowdown in arrivals is “currently not in sight,” a police spokesperson said on Friday.

To cope with the influx, Germany has stepped up border controls with Poland, with Interior Minister Horst Seehofer sending 800 additional police officers to the region.

On Wednesday, Seehofer said more than 1,000 migrants had entered in a single day this week for the first time in many years.

“If you extrapolate that to a month, then you can see that there is an urgent need to act,” he told Bild TV.

Last Saturday, a suspected smuggler was taken into custody after 31 Iraqi migrants were found in a van near the Polish border.

The influx of migrants fueled Germany’s far right, as police last week interrupted a rally of around 50 armed activists who had gathered to oppose migrants attempting to cross the border.

Updated: October 29, 2021, 21:43

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