Essex lorry deaths: 'Organiser' loses appeal against extradition

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image captionNgo Sy Tai is alleged to have run a so-called "safe house" in Belgium

A teenager accused of being an "organiser" in the people-smuggling operation that ended in the deaths of 39 migrants is to be extradited.

The Vietnamese migrants suffocated in the sealed container en route from Belgium to Essex in October 2019.

Ngo Sy Tai is alleged to have run a so-called "safe house" in Belgium, where at least 10 who died in the trailer are said to have passed through.

Mr Ngo lost an appeal against extradition from the UK to Belgium.

The Vietnamese migrants, aged 15 to 44, died in the back of a trailer as it crossed the North Sea between Zeebrugge and the UK on 23 October 2019.

Mr Ngo, who says he is 18 and is also known by the name Huong Sy Truong, was arrested at a house in the West Midlands.

image captionThe 39 people who died in the back of a trailer as it crossed the North Sea between Zeebrugge and the UK

Joel Smith, representing Mr Ngo, had appealed against extradition and cited a lack of detail in the charges against his client, meaning he was unable to sufficiently advise him.

But district judge Mark Jabbitt, in his written ruling handed down at Westminster Magistrates' Court, said Mr Ngo should be extradited.

Mr Ngo is accused of being a member of a criminal organisation and of involvement in criminal trafficking and, if convicted, faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

According to the Belgian authorities, Mr Ngo was the organiser of a "safe house" in Anderlecht, Brussels, where migrants would stay.

Outlining the case for the Belgian authorities, Daniel Sternberg said: "He (Mr Ngo) is described as an organiser for the people-trafficking organisation, arranging accommodation and transit for money.

"The vulnerable position of the people who paid money to be smuggled was abused and minors were also abused."

Mr Sternberg said the migrants kept at the safe house were "forbidden to leave, and were obliged to be silent during their stay".

He said Mr Ngo also arranged for taxis to take the Vietnamese migrants to a location near the France-Belgium border before they were put on to the lorry bound for the UK.

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