Tuesday, May 17

Justice. Mass grave truck in England: a Vietnamese sentenced to 15 years in prison in Belgium

A 45-year-old Vietnamese man was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday in Belgium for playing a leading role in the smuggling of migrants which resulted in the death of 39 of his compatriots in a container in 2019.

Vo Van Hong was considered in the Belgian part of the investigation as the leader of the organization having acted from Brussels, where at least 15 of the victims had been taken care of. A total of 39 bodies were found on October 23, 2019 in the back of a truck in the industrial area of ​​Grays, east London.

A drama that marked the opinion

23 people suspected of having taken part from Belgium in this migrant smuggling have been on trial since December for human smuggling. Against the 22 other co-defendants, sentences ranging from one to ten years in prison were required. The verdict is expected shortly.

The Shame Truck drama is one of the most heartbreaking in recent years. The victims, 31 men and eight women, aged 15 to 44, were all from Vietnam. They died of asphyxiation and hyperthermia due to the heat and lack of oxygen in the confined space of the container. The container had arrived in England from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

The investigation established that at least fifteen of the thirty-nine occupants had been taken care of in Belgium on October 22, before a detour via Bierne (northern France) where the group would have hidden in this trailer. The network had two hideouts in the Brussels municipality of Anderlecht where candidates for clandestine passage to the United Kingdom who had previously transited through Germany or the Netherlands were gathered. Many of the victims were from a poor region in central Vietnam, where families go into deep debt to send one of their own to the UK in hopes of a better life

According to the prosecution, this network would have organized “at least 130 transports” from Southeast Asia to England, each exile paying an average of 24,000 euros in several installments. The prosecution said it was “convinced” that Vo Van Hang had acted as “leader of the Belgian cell”, which the person concerned strongly defended. He claimed to be himself “a victim” of the organization. The other defendants, owners of the hideouts, “stewards” in charge of daily needs in Anderlecht, taxi drivers, etc., also denied their involvement.

A trial is looming in France

In the United Kingdom, seven men have already been sentenced in January 2021 to terms ranging from three to 27 years in prison. These include the men responsible for organizing driver rotations, part of the activity subcontracted by the criminal organization to a Northern Irish transport company. Among these seven convicts, Eamonn Harrison, a Northern Irish truck driver in his twenties, was sentenced to 18 years in prison for having transported the trailer to the mainland, to Zeebrugge. He assured during his trial in London that he was unaware of the presence on board of illegal immigrants.

In Vietnam, four men were sentenced in September 2020 to terms ranging from two and a half to seven and a half years in prison. Finally in France another trial is looming on the horizon. At least 26 people were indicted (charged) in the investigation opened in Paris in May 2020. Two large waves of arrests then took place simultaneously, one in Ile-de-France, the other in Belgium .


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