Essex lorry deaths: Man held in Italy over the deaths of 39 migrants

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

A man has been charged in Italy in connection with the deaths of 39 migrants found in a lorry in 2019.

Police said Dragos Damian, 27, was held near Milan by National Crime Agency officials and Italian authorities.

The Vietnamese migrants were discovered in a refrigerated lorry trailer in Purfleet, Essex on 23 October 2019.

Mr Damian has been charged with conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.

Essex Police said it was awaiting details of when Mr Damian would appear before the Italian courts.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe bodies of 39 Vietnamese nationals were discovered in a refrigerated trailer on 23 October 2019

Following a trial at the Old Bailey, four men were jailed in January for manslaughter.

The court was told all on board died having suffocated in the container that travelled from Belgium to Purfleet.

image copyrightEssex Police
image caption[Left to right] Eamonn Harrison, Ronan Hughes, Gheorghe Nica and Maurice Robinson were all jailed for manslaughter

Ronan Hughes, 41, and Gheorghe Nica, 43, played "leading roles" in the smuggling conspiracy and were jailed for 20 and 27 years respectively.

Two lorry drivers were also jailed for manslaughter.

Eamonn Harrison, 24, who towed the trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before their journey to the UK, was sentenced to 18 years.

Maurice Robinson, 26, was given 13 years and four months, having collected the trailer and opened it in an industrial estate to find the migrants dead.

image copyrightEssex Police
image caption[Left to right] Valentin Calota, Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga and Christopher Kennedy were also given jail sentences

Three others members of the people-smuggling gang were also sentenced for conspiracy to facilitate unlawful immigration.

Christopher Kennedy, 24, from County Armagh, was jailed for seven years; Valentin Calota, 38, of Birmingham, for four-and-a-half years; and Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, 28, of Hobart Road, Tilbury, Essex, was given a three-year sentence.

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