UK Police Charge Man With Human Trafficking Offenses in Vietnamese Truck Deaths Inquiry

By Reuters
November 24, 2019UKshare
UK Police Charge Man With Human Trafficking Offenses in Vietnamese Truck Deaths Inquiry
An aerial view as police forensic officers attends the scene after a truck was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, in Thurock, South England, on early Oct. 23, 2019. (UK Pool via AP)

LONDON—British police have charged a 23-year-old man from Northern Ireland with human trafficking offenses as part of their inquiry into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people found in the back of a truck near London last month.

The police said in a statement that Christopher Kennedy was arrested on Nov. 22 and that he is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court in England on Monday.

The Crown Prosecution Service has authorized charges of “conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of people with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law,” it said.

UK Vietnamese truck victims
Police at the scene where bodies were discovered in a lorry container, in Grays, Essex, Britain on Oct. 23, 2019. (Peter Nicholls/Reuters)

The victims, 31 males, and eight women were found in a truck container on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, not far from the docks on the River Thames, on Oct. 23.

The truck driver, who is also from Northern Ireland, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, and money laundering.

Vietnam Starts Hotline for Truck Deaths Case

The Vietnamese Embassy in London has started a hotline to help families seeking information on loved ones following the deaths of 39 people believed to be victims of human smuggling who were found in the back of a truck in southeastern England.

U.K. police say they’ve been in contact with Vietnamese authorities, even though they are not yet certain of the identities of those found dead Wednesday in the refrigerated truck.

The Vietnamese government has also announced its own investigation into the deaths.

That comes after attention shifted to Vietnam, when the family of a 26-year-old Vietnamese woman released text messages suggesting she had suffocated in the truck. Relatives of Pham Tra My told the BBC they had been unable to contact the 26-year-old since receiving a text saying she was suffocating.

The number for the Vietnamese hotline is +44-7713-181501.

Those seeking assistance in relation to the case can also contact Vietnam’s general citizen protection hotline at +84981-8484-84.

By Elizabeth Piper

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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