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Irish man pleads guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter over Vietnamese lorry deaths

Police escort the truck that was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, moving it from an industrial estate in Thurrock, south England on October 23, 2019.
Police escort the truck that was found to contain a large number of dead bodies, moving it from an industrial estate in Thurrock, south England on October 23, 2019. © Alastair Grant, AP
2 min

Irishman Ronan Hughes pleaded guilty on Friday to the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese men, women and boys found in the back of a refrigerated truck near London last year.

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Hughes appeared at the Old Bailey court following the discovery of the bodies in October. Eamonn Harrison from the British province of Northern Ireland, pleaded not guilty to the same charge.

Thirty-one of the victims were men or boys, and eight were women. The oldest was 44 and three were aged under 18, including two 15-year-old boys.

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.

Essex Police had initially said the victims were believed to be Chinese nationals, until several Vietnamese families came forward to say they feared their relatives were on board.

Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security said they hailed from six provinces – Hai Phong, Hai Duong, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Quang Binh and Thua Thien Hue – which are common feeders for illegal emigration.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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