Thursday 21 November 2019

Vietnam calls for 'strict penalties' for traffickers following migrant lorry deaths

The statement comes as police confirm the 39 migrants were Vietnamese

Police search the lorry in which the 39 dead bodies were found
Police search the lorry in which the 39 dead bodies were found

Niamh Lynch

The Vietnamese Foreign Affairs Ministry has called for those responsible for the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants to face “strict penalties”, in a statement released by spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang yesterday.

The spokesperson said: “This is a serious humanitarian tragedy. We are deeply saddened by the incident and wish to extend our heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families. We wish they may soon overcome those tremendous pain and losses [sic].”

“Vietnam strongly condemns human trafficking and considers it a serious crime subject to strict penalties. Vietnam calls upon countries in the region and around the world to step up cooperation in combating human trafficking in order to prevent the recurrence of such tragedy.”

“We hope that the British side would soon complete the investigation to bring those responsible for this tragedy to justice,” the statement continued.

The court sketch of Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire
The court sketch of Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson. Photo: Elizabeth Cook/PA Wire

The Ministry also confirmed that it had been “closely collaborating” with British authorities in order to identify the 39 victims, who recently were confirmed as Vietnamese after initial reports that they were Chinese.

The 39 victims - 31 men and eight women - were found in an articulated trailer unit in the early hours of October 23 in an industrial estate in West Thurrock, Essex. The trailer had been picked up in Zeebrugge in Belgium and transported to the port of Purfleet in Essex.

The investigation into the deaths is continuing, with two men from Northern Ireland facing charges in England.

Eamon Harrison, from Mayobridge in Co Down, was before the Irish High Court yesterday, where Irish authorities are seeking to have him surrendered for extradition to the UK.

Mr Harrison is facing 41 manslaughter and human trafficking conspiracy charges in the UK. The 22-year-old was identified as the lorry driver who delivered the trailer unit to Zeebrugge.

Meanwhile, the driver of the lorry in which the bodies were found is facing 39 counts of manslaughter in the UK. Maurice Robinson (25), from Craigavon in Co Armagh, appeared before Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

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