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Vietnam arrests two in UK truck death investigation

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Hanoi (AFP)

Vietnam police have arrested two people for trafficking in connection with the death of 39 migrants whose bodies were found in a truck in Britain, many of them feared to be Vietnamese.

The move comes after British police arrested four people over the tragedy and are now seeking to question two brothers from Northern Ireland who have links to the road-haulage and shipping business.

The victims were initially identified by British police as Chinese, but many are now believed to be Vietnamese after families in central Vietnam said their loved ones were missing and had not been heard from.

Vietnam said Friday two people were arrested for alleged involvement in the case, which has exposed the dangers of illegal people-smuggling from Vietnam to Europe.

Many of the suspected victims came from Ha Tinh province where police arrested two in connection with "the case of 39 dead bodies found in a container truck in the UK", according to a Friday statement on the website of the Ha Tinh police in central Vietnam.

They were accused of "organising and brokering for other people to go abroad and stay abroad illegally", the report said.

The bodies of the victims were found in a refrigerated trailer on October 23 in an industrial park in Essex, east of London. Police said the truck came from a Belgian port.

The 25-year-old driver of the truck, Maurice Robinson from Northern Ireland, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter.

He was also charged with conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, and money-laundering.

Prosecutors said he was involved in an international trafficking ring as he appeared in court this week.

Three others who were arrested have been released on bail.

Several Vietnamese families said they heard from relatives before their crossing into the UK but have had no contact since.

DNA samples have been taken from relatives in central Vietnam to help with the complex process of confirming the victims.

But so far none of the dead have been officially identified.

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