TWO people smugglers were found guilty of the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese men, women and children who suffocated to death in the back of a refrigerated truck in October last year as they tried to make their way to Britain.
“This is an unimaginably tragic case: 39 vulnerable people desperate for a new life were driven to put their trust in a network of unscrupulous people smugglers, ” said organised crime division prosecutor Russell Tyner.
“They died through lack of oxygen, desperately trying to escape from the container.
“Some were able to express their last words to their families on their mobile phones when they knew their situation was hopeless.”
Eamonn Harrison, a 24-year-old truck driver from Northern Ireland, and Gheorghe Nica, 43, from Essex, were found guilty of 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration on Monday, following a 10-week trial at England’s Central Criminal Court in London. They will be sentenced at a later date.
Most of those who died were from Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces in north-central Vietnam, where poor job prospects and environmental disasters, as well as the promise of financial reward abroad fuel migration.
“I’ve never stopped thinking about my son since the tragedy happened and I still wish for a miracle to bring him home with us, ” said Nguyen Dinh Gia, father of Nguyen Dinh Luong, one of the victims.
“Now I don’t really care if the smugglers will face a long sentence or not, ” Gia said by phone from Ha Tinh.
“Life must go on and I hope there won’t be any such accidents happening to people seeking a better life, ” Gia said. — Reuters
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