A French court on November 10 handed down jail sentences of up to 10 years in a people-smuggling trial over the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people who suffocated in a sealed refrigeration container as they were transported from France to Belgium before crossing the Channel to the UK in 2019.
|Police investigate the Essex case at the scene. (source: AFP/VNA)
Hanoi - A French court on November 10 handed down jail sentences of up to 10 years in a people-smuggling trial over the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people who suffocated in a sealed refrigeration container as they were transported from France to Belgium before crossing the Channel to the UK in 2019.
As reported by the British daily The Guardian, of the 19 defendants in the French trial, who include Vietnamese, French, Chinese, Algerian and Moroccan nationals, 18 were found guilty.
Four of them, all Vietnamese, were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 9 or 10 years in prison. Four other Vietnamese nationals, two of whom were absent and considered fugitives, were sentenced to between 1-10 years for their roles in transporting and housing the migrants.
The others, drivers or owners of apartments working with the gang, were sentenced to suspended jail terms. One defendant who was once a driver was cleared of all charges.
The bodies of the Vietnamese victims, two of whom were just 15 years old, were discovered inside the sealed unit at the port of Grays, in Essex, in October 2019. Two ringleaders of the operation – one Romanian and one British – were convicted at a trial in 2021 in the UK and sentenced to 27 and 20 years in prison, respectively. Other suspects, notably the drivers, received 12 to 20 years, while a Belgian court handed a 15-year term to a Vietnamese man for heading the local cell of the network.
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