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World People-smugglers jailed in UK for Vietnamese truck deaths

23:37  22 january  2021
23:37  22 january  2021 Source:   aljazeera.com

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A court in the UK sentenced four men to prison on Friday after they were convicted for their roles in the 2019 deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants. The men were given prison terms ranging from 13 to 27 years for involvement in a people - smuggling plot that led to their deaths . In October 2019, the

A UK court has found two men guilty of manslaughter following the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants, who were found dead in the refrigerated container of a truck in Essex, England in October 2019.

Four people-smugglers convicted of killing 39 people from Vietnam – who died in the back of a container truck as it was shipped to England – have been sentenced to between 13 and 27 years in prison.

a person riding on the back of a truck: Prosecutors say all the suspects were part of a gang that charged about 13,000 pounds ($17,000) per person to transport migrants in trailers through the Channel Tunnel or by boat [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters] © Prosecutors say all the suspects were part of a gang that charged about 13,000 pounds ($17,000) per ... Prosecutors say all the suspects were part of a gang that charged about 13,000 pounds ($17,000) per person to transport migrants in trailers through the Channel Tunnel or by boat [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

The victims, between the ages of 15 and 44, were found in October 2019 inside a refrigerated container that had travelled by ferry from Belgium to the eastern England port of Purfleet. The migrants had paid people-smugglers thousands of dollars to take them on risky journeys to what they hoped would be better lives abroad.

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"This is an unimaginably tragic case: 39 vulnerable people desperate for a new life were driven to put their trust in a network of unscrupulous people smugglers ," said Russell Tyner, a prosecutor in the Organised Crime Related Stories. Vietnam jails four people for their role in British truck deaths .

The " UK lorry deaths " case, as it has come to be known, made headlines all over the world, prompting passionate calls for changes to strict Nadia Sebtaoui, a trafficking expert focused on Vietnamese migrants in northern France, said that smugglers have shifted away from moving people in shipping

Judge Nigel Sweeney told the court on Friday the gang’s operation was a “sophisticated, long-running and profitable one to smuggle mainly Vietnamese migrants across the channel”.

He told the defendants they would serve at least two-thirds of their terms in custody, instead of the usual half.

The judge sentenced Romanian mechanic Gheorghe Nica, 43, described by prosecutors as the smuggling ringleader, to 27 years. Northern Irish truck driver Eamonn Harrison, 24, who drove the container to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, received an 18-year sentence.

Trucker Maurice Robinson, 26, who picked the container up in England, was sentenced to 13 years and four months in prison, while haulage company boss Ronan Hughes, 41, was jailed for 20 years.

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He admitted manslaughter and people smuggling and was jailed for 20 years. Image: Maurice Robinson discovered the bodies, but it took him 23 minutes He had denied manslaughter and people smuggling and claimed during his Old Bailey trial that he thought he was smuggling stolen lorry parts.

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Nica and Harrison were convicted last month after a 10-week trial. Hughes and Robinson had pleaded guilty to people-smuggling and manslaughter.

Three other members of the gang received shorter sentences.

Prosecutors said all the suspects were part of a gang that charged about 13,000 pounds ($17,000) per person to transport migrants in trailers through the Channel Tunnel or by boat.

The trapped migrants – who included a bricklayer, a restaurant worker, a nail bar technician, a budding beautician and a university graduate – used a metal pole to try to punch through the roof of the refrigerated container, but only managed to dent it.

‘Very shocked’

Detective Chief Inspector Danny Stoten of Essex Police said outside court that the gang “made their money from misery”.

“They treated the victims as a commodity and they transported them in ways that we would not transport animals,” he said, adding he hoped the case sent a strong message that others involved in this activity “will face justice”.

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The scene where 39 people were found dead in a tractor-trailer in Essex, east of London, in October.Credit Ben Stansall/Agence France-Presse PARIS — More than two dozen people have been arrested in Belgium and France in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants

When Vui Nyugen, a Vietnam -born Roman Catholic religious sister, makes her regular pastoral visits to Vietnamese people in UK immigration detention “They had no choice because the smugglers forced them.” Academic studies estimate the number of Vietnamese people living clandestinely in the

The group of migrants endured scorching temperatures inside the container.

Haulage firm boss Hughes, 41, closed his eyes during the trial as he heard recordings of the victims’ distressing final moments.

In one message, a man struggled for air as he apologised to his family, saying: “I can’t breathe.”

“I want to come back to my family. Have a good life,” he added, as distressed noises from other victims were heard in the background.

Nguyen Huy Tung, whose 15-year-old son Nguyen Huy Hung died in the tragedy, said the family “did not believe it was the truth until we saw his body by our own eyes” at the hospital.

“We were very shocked, trembled, we lost track and awareness of our surroundings,” he added. “My wife had fainted many times whenever our son’s name was mentioned.”

Prosecutors have said the trapped migrants were unable to get a phone signal inside the container, whose cooling system was turned off.

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