|Police at the scene where bodies were discovered in the back of a truck in Essex. Photo: Reuters|
Italian police had arrested a Romanian citizen who is the subject of an international arrest warrant from the U.K. for the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese people smuggled into Britain.
Stefan Damian Dragos, 28, allegedly provided the truck which was used to smuggle the group of migrants, who were found dead in a freight container on the back of the vehicle in October 2019, Italian police said in a statement on June 12.
There was no immediate statement from the suspect or from any lawyer representing him. He was arrested in the town of Cinisello Balsamo, north of Milan, but police gave no further details, according to Reuters.
The discovery of so many dead people - two as young as 15 - in the back of the truck on an industrial estate to the east of London shocked Britain and Vietnam. It also shone a spotlight on the illicit global trade that sends the poor of Asia, Africa and the Middle East on perilous journeys to the West.
Most of those who died were from Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces in north-central Vietnam, where poor job prospects, environmental disasters and the promise of financial reward abroad fuel migration.
As oxygen levels fell in the back of the truck, some tried desperately to escape, but in vain, ABC News said.
Others used mobile phones to say their last farewells to devastated relatives on the other side of the world.
|Pham Thi Tra My sent a message to her mother saying she couldn't breathe, Human Rights Space reported.(Twitter: Hoa Nghiem, Human Rights Space)|
One of the victims was Pham Thi Tra My, a 26-year-old woman whose heartbreaking final text message to her mother vividly brought home the scale of the tragedy.
Her family had been unable to contact her since the text arrived saying she was suffocating.
"I'm so sorry mom and dad … My journey abroad doesn't succeed," she wrote. "Mom, I love you and dad very much. I'm dying because I can't breathe … Mom, I'm so sorry."
In January four men who admitted or were found guilty of manslaughter and immigration offenses were given long jail sentences, Reuters reported.
|The lorry is taken away after the discovery of 39 bodies in October 2019. Getty|
Judge Nigel Sweeney said they had suffered an “excruciating slow death” as he jailed seven men involved in the people smuggling gang for a total of 92 years at London’s Old Bailey criminal court.
He said it was a sophisticated, long-running, and profitable scheme which would have netted the gang hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The four who admitted or were found guilty of manslaughter and immigration offences, were 41-year-old haulier Ronan Hughes from Northern Ireland, the leader of the plot who was jailed for 20 years, and Romanian Gheorghe Nica, 44, another major figure, who was sentenced to 27 years behind bars.
Maurice Robinson, 26, the Northern Irish driver of the truck in which the bodies were found, was jailed for 13 years, while Eamonn Harrison, 24, also from the British province, who drove the container to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge from where the victims were taken to Britain, was given an 18-year sentence./.
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