PARIS: The French prosecutor's office said on Wednesday (May 27) that 26 people have been arrested in France and Belgium in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found in the back of a truck near London last year.
|Police forensics officers work on a lorry, found to be containing 39 dead bodies, at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London. (Photo: AFP/Ben Stansall) |
Belgian prosecutors said those held in raids around Brussels are suspected of running a people smuggling network believed to be behind the tragedy in Britain in October last year.
The dead, including two 15-year-old boys, were found on an industrial estate about 32 east of London last October.
Mostly from Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces in north-central Vietnam, their deaths shone a light on the human smuggling trade.
Autopsies had concluded that the provisional cause of death was a combination of hypoxia - oxygen deprivation - and hyperthermia - overheating - in an enclosed space.
Maurice Robinson, the British driver of the truck from Northern Ireland, admitted last November to plotting to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property.
Police have said that the Vietnamese victims were found not long after the container arrived in Britain from Zeebrugge in Belgium.
The refrigerated unit was picked up at Purfleet dock, not far from Grays, while police believe the truck cab was driven over from Ireland.