LONDON – Four men were sentenced to long prison terms on Friday for killing 39 people Vietnamese Men, women and children suffocated to death in a suffocated and sealed shipping container in October 2019 while being smuggled into Britain.
The discovery of a large number of dead people – two of them only 15 years old – in the back of a truck in an industrial zone in east London shocked Britain and Vietnam. It also shed light on the illicit global trade that sends the poor of Asia, Africa and the Middle East on risky journeys to the West.
With oxygen levels declining, some desperately tried to escape, but to no avail. Others used cell phones to say their last farewell to their distressed relatives on the other side of the world.
Judge Nigel Sweeney said they suffered a “slow, agonizing death” as seven men involved in the people-smuggling ring were imprisoned for a total of 92 years at Old Bailey Criminal Court in London.
He said it was a complicated, long-running, and profitable scheme that would have earned the gang hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The four who have confessed or convicted of homicide and immigration offenses are Ronan Hughes, 41, from Northern Ireland, the conspiracy leader who was imprisoned for 20 years, and Romanian Georgi Nika, 44, another key figure, who was sentenced to 27 years behind bars. .
Morris Robinson, 26, the driver of the truck in which the bodies were found, a Northern Irishman, was imprisoned for 13 years, while Eamon Harrison, 24, also from the British province, drove the container to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge from where the victims were transported to Britain, and ruled He has 18 years in prison.
Most of those who died were from the Ngi An and Ha Tinh provinces in north-central Vietnam, where poor job opportunities, environmental disasters and the promise of financial reward abroad are driving up migration.
British police have released certificates of appreciation from relatives of those who died, including the parents of 15-year-old football fan Nguyen Hui Hong.
They said, “He always dreamed of going to the UK and tried hard to study in school in addition to learning English for this purpose.”
Written by Michael Holden