LONDON — The Latest on the flow of migrants into Europe (all times local):
Austrian police say three men are in custody and will likely be charged with human smuggling after a highway search east of Vienna revealed 17 migrants squeezed into a van meant to carry no more than seven people.
A police statement Wednesday said the 17 included children and an 8-month-old baby who was sedated to keep quiet during the drive that originated in Hungary. The passengers weren’t allowed to leave the van and had to relieve themselves inside.
Each person had about 0.29 square meters (about 3 feet square) of space. All were charged 5,000 euros ($5,600) a piece except for the baby, who was transported for half that amount.
Police identified the driver as a 19-year-old Egyptian. Two Syrians, ages 20 and 37, who accompanied the van in a car also were arrested.
Austria’s interior minister is threatening to take Hungary to the EU’s highest court over its refusal by to accept migrants turned back by his country.
Wednesday’s warning from Wolfgang Sobotka comes as Austria moves toward passing a law that would cap the number of people allowed to apply for asylum at 37,500 for this year.
EU law says that refugees are the responsibility of the member country where they first entered Europe. But that rule has been suspended for Greece, the main point of arrival, with a ruling that conditions there do not meet human rights standards.
Hungarian officials say, however, that returnees who entered Austria through their country are not their concern, citing the rule mandating that countries of first entry are accountable.
British officials say a 4-meter-high (13 foot-high) wall will be built to deter migrants trying to reach Britain from the northern French port of Calais.
Home Office Minister Robert Goodwill says the kilometer-long (0.6 mile-long) barrier is part of a 17 million pound ($23 million) package of security measures agreed to by Britain and France. He says construction will begin “very soon.”
Thousands of people from the Middle East and Africa have traveled to Calais, hoping to reach Britain by stowing away on trucks and trains through the Channel Tunnel.
A British truckers’ group says the wall is a poor use of money. Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett said Wednesday that the funds “would be much better spent on increasing security along the approach roads.”