Essex lorry deaths: Vietnamese police arrest another person

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Image caption,
Pham Thi Tra My and Nguyen Dinh Luong's families are concerned they may be among the victims

Another person has been arrested in Vietnam after 39 people were found dead in a lorry in Essex.

The arrest in the Nghe An province is the 11th in the country over the deaths of the 31 men and eight women, all believed to have been Vietnamese.

Nine suspects are now being held in relation to people smuggling offences after eight arrests on Monday, the director of police in Nghe An said.

Two people were arrested in the Ha Tinh province of Vietnam last week.

A team of Vietnamese arrived in the UK on Monday to work with police to formally identify the victims.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said an announcement on their identities could be made "maybe later today or tomorrow morning".

The victims were discovered in a refrigerated lorry trailer on an industrial estate in Grays on 23 October.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
A service was held for the victims in east London on Saturday evening

Post-mortem examinations are being carried out to establish the cause of their deaths.

More than 100 people attended a service for the victims at the Church of the Holy Name and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in east London on Saturday evening.

The driver of the lorry, Maurice Robinson, from Northern Ireland, appeared in court last week charged with a string of offences, including 39 counts of manslaughter.

Extradition proceedings have also begun against 22-year-old Eamonn Harrison, who was arrested in Dublin on a European Arrest Warrant.

Police are also seeking two brothers from Northern Ireland, Ronan and Christopher Hughes, who are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and people trafficking.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The bodies were discovered in the lorry trailer in the early hours of 23 October

This article was based on public announcements and appeals made by Essex Police at the relevant time. Christopher Hughes denies any involvement in these offences and Essex Police has since confirmed no further action will be taken against him. Since the publication of this article, his older brother, Ronan Hughes, 41, and Maurice Robinson, 26, both of County Armagh, have pleaded guilty to manslaughter. On 21 December 2020, the Crown Court, sitting at the Old Bailey, found Eamonn Harrison, 24 of Newry, County Down, and Gheorghe Nica, 43 of Basildon, Essex, guilty of manslaughter and Christopher Kennedy, 24, of County Armagh, and Valentin Calota 38, of Birmingham, guilty of conspiring to assist illegal immigration. Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 28, of Tilbury, Essex, and Gazmir Nuzi, 43, of Tottenham, north London, admitted assisting unlawful immigration. All defendants were sentenced in January 2021.

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