Hungarian prosecutors said Wednesday that they will charge eight people for the death of 71 migrants who suffocated to death in a lorry last year as they were being smuggled toward Western Europe.

The defendants include an Afghan ringleader and seven Bulgarians. Four face murder charges. The others face charges of people smuggling.

All will be tried as members of a criminal enterprise, Zoltan Boross of the National Investigative Bureau told reporters in Budapest.

The migrants, four of them children, suffocated in stifling heat in an unventilated refrigerator truck they were locked in for the illegal transport from Hungary to Austria.

The truck with the bodies of Syrian, Iraqi and Afghan migrants was found on August 27, 2015 on the shoulder of the Budapest-Vienna highway near Parndorf, in Austria. 

Investigators determined that they died in agony shortly after being tightly packed into the lorry on Hungarian soil, which prompted Austrian authorities to hand the case to the neighbouring country.

The incident occurred at the peak of the 2015-16 migration crisis, as hundreds of thousands of migrants and refugees were making their way from Greek islands, across the Balkans toward wealthy European countries such as Germany and Sweden.

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