- Canton Nidwalden police released 23 refugees from an overcrowded truck in Hergeswil, northwest on Monday.
- They were standing unsafe and being transported in a closed space.
- Cantonal police said a suspected smuggler had been arrested.
The truck, which has Italian license plates, was heading north on the A2 motorway when police stopped it at 6:30 a.m. as part of a stop-over. It was a coincidence, according to Sinad Sakic, chief of criminal police in Nidwalden: “We had no specific information, our people stopped the car out of pure instinct,” he said.
The police were right on their instincts: in the windowless van, they found 23 refugees from Afghanistan, India, Syria and Bangladesh, aged between 20 and 50.
“They were clearly exhausted, because they had been standing for several hours without rest or food,” says Sakic, speaking of an “inhumane mode of transportation”; The trip must be a great stress both physically and mentally. The refugees were taken care of by the emergency services. They are now in a refugee shelter in Stansstad.
Switzerland was not a destination for refugees
The people’s destinations were Germany, France and Great Britain, according to police interrogations. “Some people said they came to Italy via Romania, others were already in Italy and then traveled by train to Milan,” says Nidwalden Police Chief Sinad Sakic. There, a smuggler arrested them and took them to the delivery truck.”
The 27-year-old truck driver who is based in Italy has been arrested. The Nidwalden Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated proceedings against him on suspicion of human smuggling.
Chief Detective Sakic says he knows nothing of his human charge. “When he was first questioned, he said he had been assigned to drive the car from Milan to Basel, where it would have been driven by another driver.”
The Nidwalden Immigration Office was also involved in the investigation.
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