Runaway driver who caused fatal migrant accident caught in Koper

Ljubljana – The police have caught a 24-year-old North Macedonian national in Koper on Friday. The man is suspected to have caused a fatal accident on the Štajerska leg of the A1 motorway on 12 March, involving a van carrying illegal migrants. One person was killed and eleven were injured, while the suspect fled the scene on foot.

The accident happened on the motorway north-east of Celje as the driver swerved the vehicle to the right into the metal barrier. The van rolled over several times. The driver then escaped on foot, leaving behind 12 illegal migrants. One of them, whose identity has not yet been confirmed, died at the scene due to serious injuries.

In addition, a Turkish national was seriously injured and six Indian nationals, three Turkish nationals and one Afghan national sustained minor injuries. One is still being hospitalised, while others have been moved to an asylum centre.

The Celje police arrested two men from Kosovo on the day of the accident, aged 18 and 21, suspected to be involved in the transport of illegal migrants. The suspects allegedly accompanied the van in a car.

Soon after, another 21-year-old Kosovo national from Celje was arrested, while an extensive search for the runaway driver continued. He was subsequently arrested in Koper on Friday, six days after the accident.

The driver, who is now in custody, is suspected of negligence in causing the accident, leaving injured persons unattended and illegally crossing the national border.

Police have also found out that the migrants had illegally crossed the border from Croatia near Ljutomer, and the suspects then planned to take them on to Italy. All the suspects face between three and 15 years in prison.