News World UK police arrest man and woman for human trafficking over truck deaths

UK police arrest man and woman for human trafficking over truck deaths

Police investigating the deaths of 39 people, believed to be Chinese nationals, found in a truck near London said they had arrested two people on Friday on suspicion of human trafficking and continued to question the driver as a murder suspect.

As China called on Britain to seek “severe punishment” for those involved in the deaths, police said they had detained a man and a woman, both aged 38, in Warrington, northwest England, on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and of 39 counts of manslaughter.

The 25-year-old truck driver remains in custody after being arrested following the grim discovery of the bodies in the back of his refrigerated truck in the early hours of Wednesday.

He has not been formally identified but a source familiar with the investigation named him as Mo Robinson from the Portadown area of Northern Ireland. Detectives will decide later whether to charge him with an offence, release him or ask a court for more time to question him.

Late on Thursday, British authorities moved 11 of the victims – 31 men and eight women – to a hospital mortuary from a secure location at docks near the industrial estate in Grays about 20 miles (30 km) east of London where the bodies were found.

Post-mortem examinations were beginning to determine how exactly they died while forensic experts sought to identify the deceased, which police warned would be a lengthy process.

The British police said they believed the victims were Chinese and China’s Embassy in London said it had sent a team to Essex. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said police had not yet been able to verify the nationalities of the deceased.

“We hope that the British side can as soon as possible confirm and verify the identities of the victims, ascertain what happened and severely punish criminals involved in the case,” she told a daily news briefing.

For years, illegal immigrants have attempted to reach Britain stowed away in trucks, often from the European mainland. In 2000, 58 Chinese were found dead in a tomato truck at the port of Dover.

China’s Global Times, which is published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, said in a Friday editorial that Britain should bear some responsibility for the deaths.

“It is clear that Britain and relevant European countries have not fulfilled their responsibility to protect these people from such a death,” the widely read tabloid said.

It added that Britain appeared not to have learned its lesson from the Dover incident two decades ago.

“Could the British and European people ask themselves why they have not been able to avoid a similar tragedy … Did they take all the serious remedial action that they could have?” it said.

TRUCK’S MOVEMENTS

The police investigation is focused on the movement of the trailer prior to its arrival at Purfleet docks near Grays little more than an hour before the bodies were found, and on who was behind the suspected human trafficking.

“This is the largest investigation of its kind Essex Police has ever had to conduct and it is likely to take some considerable time to come to a conclusion,” Essex Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said.

His force has said their priority was ensuring respect and compassion in treatment of the victims.

Irish company Global Trailer Rentals said it owned the trailer and had rented it out on Oct. 15. The firm said it was unaware of what it was to be used for.

The refrigeration unit had travelled to Britain from Zeebrugge in Belgium and the town’s chairman, Dirk de Fauw, said he believed the victims died in the trailer before it arrived in the Belgian port.

The Times newspaper reported that GPS data showed the container had arrived at the Belgian port at 2.49 p.m. local time on Tuesday before later making the 10-hour sea crossing to Britain.

Police said the cab unit of the truck was driven over from Dublin on Sunday, crossing the Irish Sea by ship and entering Britain in North Wales. It picked up the trailer in Purfleet shortly after midnight on Wednesday.

The National Crime Agency, which targets serious and organised crime, said it was helping the investigation and working urgently to identify any gangs involved.

The head of the Road Haulage Association said traffickers were “upping their game” and closer cooperation with European nations was needed, although that may be complicated by Britain’s planned exit from the European Union.

(Reuters)

Top Stories

Out of 592 inspections island-wide, 15 fines handed out

Police conducted 592 inspection all across Cyprus over the past 24 hours and booked six establishments and nine individuals for violation of measures to...

Cyprus says committed to peace talks, but not at gunpoint

Cyprus is committed to reunification talks with Turkish Cypriots but not at gunpoint, President Nicos Anastasiades said in an address to the U.N. General Assembly late...

Ex Cambridge Analytica boss banned over ‘unethical services’

The former head of now-defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica has been banned from running limited liability companies in Britain for seven years for...

Turkey’s lira surges after unexpected rate hike

Turkey's lira has charged higher against the dollar as investors cheered the central bank's surprise move to raise its policy rate, while emerging market...

Mainly fine on Friday with afternoon cloud and isolated showers

Friday will be mainly fine in the morning with increased cloud in the afternoon and possible isolated showers inland, in the mountains and possibly...

Taste

Sheftalies

Sheftalies, a very tasty dish from the charcoal grill, are minced meat shaped into small sausages and wrapped in “panna” (suet). Panna is a...

Spicy grilled soutzoukakia

Place all ingredients for soutzoukakia in a bowl and mix well, preferably using a food processor, until well combined. Using the mixture, form cigar-shaped...

Souvlakia

Pork souvlaki: Put the meat and all the other ingredients in a bowl (not metal) and mix well. Cover the bowl and keep in...

Pastelli (Carob Toffee)

The nutritional sweet of Pastelli is made with the syrup of carob pods, produced by boiling their pulp until it forms a thick, sticky...