STA, 5 August 2019 - Four men from Koper have been sentenced to a total of more than 11 years in jail for transporting illegal migrants who crossed into Slovenia from Croatia in the south, a regional newspaper reports.
According to Primorske Novice, the group went into the business of smuggling migrants early in 2018, after a Croat crashed a vehicle full of migrants into a Slovenian police patrol car before fleeing home.
The Croat allegedly got in touch with a Koper man, now aged 29, who recruited three more men from Koper and its vicinity. They are now aged 30, 35 and 28.
The group did their business as part of a criminal ring, other members of which gathered illegal migrants in the Zagreb area and organised their transport to the border with Slovenia.
The migrants crossed the border on foot with the help of guides, and two of the four Koper men then organised their transport ahead, performed by the other two defendants.
Facing the charges at the Koper District Court in the spring this year, two of the four pleaded guilty, the 29-year-old and the 28-year-old.
The latter was given a year and 8 months for transporting migrants twice. He will serve the sentence by performing 1,200 hours of community work. He was also slapped with a EUR 2,000 fine.
The 29-year-old was sentenced to eight and a half years for smuggling of migrants, reckless driving and abandoning an injured person in an accident, all of which happened during his arrest.
The other two pleaded not guilty. They were sentenced to three and a half and three years in prison and fines of EUR 1,000 and 2,000. The sentences are not yet final, Primorske Novice writes.
The four were involved in the illegal business between February and May 2018 in the areas of Ilirska Bistrica and Mlini in Istria.