— The law enforcement authorities in Germany
indicated on Tuesday that two suspects held in Hungary
in connection with the deaths of 71 people found in a truck near Vienna on Thursday had been known to them for earlier crimes, including the smuggling of migrants to Bavaria just over a month ago.
The revelations about the two suspects, a Bulgarian and an Afghan, came as investigators in Austria
, who are combing the truck in which the migrants were discovered, said that they had found about a dozen Syrian travel documents in the vehicle, and that they were checking if they were genuine.
A man referred to in the German news media as Metodi G., 29 years old and born in Lom, Bulgaria
, is thought to be one of two people who fled a truck on a highway in Bavaria on July 25 after being chased by the police.
The police later found 38 people, mostly Afghan migrants, crammed into the truck. But they failed to catch the two men, said Peter Wiesenberger, a public prosecutor in the Bavarian district of Deggendorf
, close to the border with Austria.
The German website Spiegel Online was first to name Metodi G., and to partially identify three other suspects in the inquiry: Samsooryamal L., 28, an Afghan; and two men with Bulgarian names, Tsvetan T., said to be 32, and Kassim S., 50.
Prosecutors in the east Austrian state of Burgenland
, where the abandoned truck was found on Thursday, declined to confirm the names and ages of the suspects, or other details.
“We beg for your understanding,” said Verena Strnad, a spokeswoman for Burgenland prosecutors. “We are right at the start of our investigations and do not want to do anything to jeopardize them.”
Mr. Wiesenberger confirmed that Metodi G. was suspected of being one of the two men who abandoned the vehicle carrying Afghans in July, and that he was being sought on a warrant for people smuggling.
Christian Kuhnert, a spokesman for prosecutors in the Ruhr
industrial city of Bochum, in northwest Germany, said that Metodi G. was also suspected of robbing 1,000 euros, or about $1,120, at a gas station in Bochum in July 2009.
Spiegel Online reported that the Afghan suspect had previously been known to the authorities in Bremen, in northwest Germany, where officers who once stopped him noted that he spoke no German, only English.
State prosecutors in Bremen asked for questions to be submitted by email, and they did not immediately respond to that inquiry.
In Austria, the authorities said that two other suspects in the investigation had been arrested, bringing the total to six. One was detained in Bulgaria and the other in Hungary
, Ms. Strnad said. She declined to give further details.
The Syrian travel documents have not been linked to specific people whose bodies were found in the truck near Vienna on Thursday, said Gerald Pangl, a police spokesman in Burgenland.
He said that 40 autopsies had been completed, but he declined to give further details. The authorities plan to hold a news conference on Friday to announce the results of the inquiry so far, he said.