Fri, 09 Jun 2023

France is to try 19 people over the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants three and a half years after the grim discovery of their bodies in the back of a refrigerated lorry in England.

The victims, the youngest of whom were two 15-year-old boys, suffocated in the sealed container as they were being transported across the Channel.

Their bodies were found inside the truck at a parking lot in Essex in October 2019.

The case cast a shocking new light on the lengths migrants will go to to reach Britain - and the gangs exploiting their desperation.

French investigating magistrates ordered the trial of 19 suspects aged 21 to 58 after completing their investigation into a network of smugglers behind the convoy.

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A transnational investigation points to the suspects - of Vietnamese, French, Chinese, Algerian and Moroccan origin - being part of a large network smuggling people from Vietnam to Europe.

Citing a source, the French news agency AFP reports that the suspects stand accused of organising the transport of migrants and driving taxis or owning flats where they could hide them in the Paris region.

The victims were referred to as "merchandise" or even "chickens", wiretapped phone calls revealed.

It's understood the migrants were unable to get a phone signal inside the container, whose cooling system was turned off.

The trial is the latest of several in Europe over the tragedy.

(with AFP)

Originally published on RFI

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