UK police charge truck driver with 39 counts of manslaughter - GulfToday

UK police charge truck driver with 39 counts of manslaughter


A relative lights an incense stick infront of a portrait of Bui Thi Nhung, who is feared to be among the 39 people found dead in a truck, inside her house in Vietnam on Saturday. AFP

British police said on Saturday they had charged Maurice Robinson, the 25-year-old driver of a truck who was arrested when 39 people were found dead in the back of his container this week. He will appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

More Vietnamese citizens are feared among 39 people found dead in a refrigerated truck in Britain this week, families and community organisers said on Saturday, after the tragedy laid bare the risks of illegal migrant routes to Europe.

Vietnamese-wife-750Hoang Thi Thuong, wife of suspected victim of Nguyen Dinh Tu, holds her son at their home in Nghe An province. Reuters

British police initially said all 31 men and eight women found in a lorry in an industrial park in Essex this week were believed to be Chinese.

But several Vietnamese families have come forward saying their relatives went missing on route to Britain, a prime destination for Vietnamese migrants seeking better lives abroad.

All of the families come from impoverished and remote corners of central Vietnam, a hotspot for migrants embarking on dangerous journeys and lured by promises of earning quick riches overseas.

Many are smuggled illegally through Russia or China, often indebted tens of thousands of dollars and carrying falsified documents, and end up working off the books on cannabis farms or in nail salons.

Five people have been arrested in the UK in connection with the tragedy, which sparked the largest murder probe in Britain in almost 15 years.

Several families told AFP on Saturday they feared their relatives were among the dead.

Vitanmese-750Relatives of Anna Bui Thi Nhung read news about her at her home in Nghe An province. Reuters

In central Ha Tinh province, the father of 20-year-old Nguyen Dinh Luong said he received a call from a Vietnamese man in the UK this week saying his son had died en route to Britain.

"I fell to the ground when I heard that," Nguyen Dinh Gia said. "It seemed that he was in the truck with the accident, all of them dead."

Britain-based community group VietHome said it had received "photos of nearly 20 people reported missing, age 15-45" from Vietnam.

'Criminal' networks

The truck carrying the migrants arrived in Purfleet on the River Thames estuary on Wednesday, on a ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

British police refused to confirm if any of the victims were Vietnamese on Saturday, after all the bodies had been transferred to hospital for autopsies.

But a senior officer said he had met Vietnam's ambassador to discuss how to fast track the process of finger print identification and DNA testing to identify the victims.

Vietnam's Prime Minister on Saturday called for government agencies to help establish victims' identities and look into illegal migration.

Police did not rule out the possibility that the victims could have been trafficked into the UK by "criminals."

"We've got to be realistic. We know that... we have people coming into the country, either being trafficked or as asylum seekers," Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore told reporters.

"It must be clear that criminals — and that's what we're dealing with, criminals, murderers — are taking more and more chances with these vulnerable people," he added.

An Irish man in his early 20s was arrested on Saturday in connection with the incident, police said.



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