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Hungary frees over 1,400 jailed people smugglers

Hungary frees over 1,400 jailed people smugglers
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Hungary has released more than 1,400 convicted people smugglers from prisons, authorities said Wednesday, a move which the European Commission is challenging.

Last month, the European Commission launched a legal procedure against Hungary after Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government in April decided to release jailed people smugglers and gave them three days to leave the country.

Hungary said at the time that its overcrowded jails were holding 2,600 people from 73 countries — 13 percent of the prison population — at great cost to the taxpayer.

“We have released 1,468 detainees of foreign nationality who have been convicted of smuggling of human beings,” the National Command of Penitentiary Services told AFP in an e-mail.

Fiercely anti-migration Orban accuses Brussels of pushing forward laws he says encourage migration.

“Hungary had to take this decision on people smugglers because Brussels does not contribute to the cost of border protection, but punishes Hungary when prisons are overcrowded,” deputy interior minister Bence Retvari has said.

The EU executive says that no systems have been put in place to monitor whether the people smugglers serve the rest of their sentences in their homelands.

Austria in particular has been angered by its neighbour’s decision and has tightened controls on its border.

Hungary has two months to explain how it intends to address Brussels’ concerns or the Commission could draw up a case against Budapest.

Orban frequently clashes with the European Commission.

In June, the EU’s top court ruled that Hungary had failed to fulfil its obligations under the bloc’s law by hindering people from seeking asylum.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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