Hungary mulls stiff penalties for border jumpers, people smugglers

 Hungary moved on Friday to stiffen penalties for illegal border crossing in a new bid to deter the wave of migrants surging into the country in record numbers.

Budapest: Hungary moved on Friday to stiffen penalties for illegal border crossing in a new bid to deter the wave of migrants surging into the country in record numbers.

Some 140,000 people, the majority from war-torn parts of the Middle East, have been detained by police on the country`s southern border with Serbia this year, over 10,000 so far this week.

A razor-wire barrier being built by Hungary along the border to try keep migrants out is due for completion by Monday.

The government proposed Friday giving people caught breaching the three rolls of wire fence a three-year jail term.

Higher jail sentences for convicted people smugglers are also included in the package of 13 amendments to the criminal code and asylum laws submitted to parliament Friday for debate next week.

The bill also would allow for new "transit zones" to be set up at the border to hold asylum seekers while their applications are processed. 

Currently they are free to travel to refugee camps around Hungary to wait for a verdict on their case, but most leave the country before the end of the process.

Under the new laws, the police would receive new powers, and the army could also be sent to the border as a last resort in "crisis situations" when unusually large numbers of migrants cross the border. 

If approved, most of the new measures would come into force on September 15.

Earlier Friday, Hungarian police said they had arrested four people over the discovery Thursday of 71 decomposing bodies in an abandoned truck in Austria.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban has vaunted the new border fence as the only answer to keep migrants out.

But AFP correspondent this week witnessed several migrants scrambling through the fence, undeterred by the latest hurdle on their perilous journey west, in search of refuge in Europe.

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