HANOI (Reuters) – Police in Vietnam have arrested eight people in relation to the discovery of 39 dead Vietnamese in a truck near London last month, state media said on Monday.
FILE PHOTO: Police vehicles are seen at the scene where bodies were discovered in a lorry container, in Grays, Essex, Britain October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
British police last week charged two men with manslaughter over the deaths of the group, whose bodies were found inside a container on the truck on Oct. 23.
“Based on what we learn from the suspects, we will actively launch investigations to fight and eradicate these rings which bring people illegally to Britain,” said Nghe An province police chief Nguyen Huu Cau, according to the official Vietnam News Agency (VNA).
“The best thing to do now is to deal with the consequences of the incident and help family members receive the bodies,” Cau added.
Cau said police were treating the tragedy as a smuggling incident, rather than a case of people-trafficking, according to VNA.
Most of the victims were from the neighbouring provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh, in north-central Vietnam, where poor job prospects, encouragement by authorities, smuggling gangs and environmental disaster all contribute to the wave of migrants.
On Friday, police in Ha Tinh said they had arrested two people and summoned others for questioning on suspicion of involvement in the incident.
The discovery of the bodies has shone a spotlight on the illicit trade that sends the poor of Asia, Africa and the Middle East on perilous journeys to the West.
The alleged truck driver has already been charged over the deaths, and on Friday detectives said Eamon Harrison, 23, from Northern Ireland, was also accused of 39 counts of manslaughter as well as human trafficking and immigration offences.
On Sunday, a delegation of Vietnamese diplomats and police left for Britain where they were expected to meet with their British counterparts on Monday, Vietnam’s official government website said on Monday.
Reporting by Khanh Vu and Phuong Nguyen; Writing by James Pearson; Editing by Christian Schmollinger