LONDON – Four men received long prison sentences for the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese men, women and children who suffocated to death in a suffocating, airtight container in October 2019 when they were smuggled into the UK.
The discovery of so many dead – two 15-year-olds – in the back of a truck on an industrial property east of London shocked Britain and Vietnam. In addition, the spotlight projects illicit global trade, which sends the poor from Asia, Africa and the Middle East on dangerous journeys to the West.
As oxygen levels plummeted, some desperately tried to escape, but in vain. Others used cell phones to say goodbye to devastated relatives on the other side of the world.
Judge Nigel Sweeney said they had suffered a “painful slow death”
He said it was a complex, long-term and profitable scheme that would attract the gang hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The four who pleaded guilty to non-criminal murders and immigration crimes were 41-year-old carrier Ronan Hughes from Northern Ireland, the leader of the conspiracy who was imprisoned for 20 years, and Romanian Gheorghe Nika, 44, another important figure. , who was sentenced to 27 years behind bars.
Maurice Robinson, 26, the driver of the truck in which the bodies were found in Northern Ireland, was detained for 13 years, while Eamon Harrison, 24, also from the British province, took the container to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, where the victims were taken. in Britain, received an 18-year sentence.
Most of the dead are from the provinces of Nge An and Ha Tin in northern Vietnam, where poor job prospects, environmental disasters and the promise of a financial reward abroad fuel migration.
British police paid tribute to the relatives of the victims, including the parents of football fan Nguyen Hui Hung, 15 years old.
“He has always dreamed of going to the United Kingdom and has tried very hard to go to school as well as to learn English for that purpose,” they said.
By Michael Holden