Vietnam arrests eight over UK truck deaths

Prison cell. File picture
Prison cell. File picture
Image: Pxhere

Vietnam has arrested eight more suspects in connection with the deaths of 39 people found in a truck in Britain who are believed to be Vietnamese, police said on Monday.

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated truck  in an industrial park in Essex, east of London in October, in a case that has shaken Britain and exposed the deadly risks of illegal migration from Vietnam into Europe.

British police initially said the victims were Chinese, but several Vietnamese families came forward to say they feared their relatives were on the truck.

No-one has been officially identified.

Many of the victims are suspected to have come from just two provinces in central Vietnam, including Nghe An, where eight people have been arrested in connection with the deaths, police said on Monday.

“This was a very painful incident, a humanitarian accident,” Nghe An police director Nguyen Huu Cau said, confirming the arrests.

The official Vietnam News Agency also confirmed the arrests, saying the suspects were detained for “organising [and] brokering people to go abroad and stay abroad illegally”.

Two other suspects were arrested in Ha Tinh province last week.

Brokers are rife in remote towns in central Vietnam, a hotspot for illegal migration into Europe.

DNA samples and fingerprints have been taken from several families as officials in Vietnam and Britain work to identify the victims.

Britain is a popular destination for Vietnamese illegal migrants, many of whom end up working in cannabis farms or nail bars.

Those without enough money to afford so-called “VIP packages” to fly to European countries before embarking on treacherous routes into Britain — usually in trucks — often travel westward via Russia or China.

The routes can be dangerous, with some people exploited for labour in factories or brothels along the way.

Vietnam’s public security minister, To Lam, said the government would work to bring the victims’ bodies back to the Southeast Asian country.

The 25-year-old Northern Irish driver of the truck has been charged with manslaughter, money-laundering and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

In Dublin, another Northern Irishman is facing extradition to Britain in connection with the incident.

Three other people have been arrested and released on police bail. — AFP