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UK police charge fifth man over Essex lorry deaths

March 17, 2020 | 10:09

A fifth person has been charged by British police in connection with the investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people found dead inside a refrigeration trailer in Essex, northeast of London, last October.

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uk police charge fifth man over essex lorry deaths
39 people found dead in the container on an industrial estate in Essex. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

Valentin Calota appeared at Basildon magistrates court on charges of facilitating illegal immigration between May 2018 and October 2019, reported The Guardian.

Four other people have already been charged in the UK while an Irish lorry driver wanted for his alleged role is fighting his extradition from Dublin.

Calota, of Cossington Road, Birmingham, was charged in the early hours of Monday, according to Essex police. He is accused of conspiring to smuggle non-EU nationals into the UK, contrary to immigration law, between 1 May 2018 and 24 October 2019.

Eamonn Harrison, who is wanted in Britain on charges of human trafficking and immigration offences, as well as 39 counts of manslaughter, was granted permission by a judge in Dublin to appeal against his extradition to the UK.

The 23-year-old, from Mayobridge in County Down, Northern Ireland, is alleged to have driven a refrigerated container to the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium, and later signed the shipping notice for it.

Detectives from Essex police believe a number of Vietnamese people may have come into the UK illegally through Purfleet in October, and are asking them to come forward to help with the investigation.

The assistant chief constable, Tim Smith, said earlier this month: “We understand that they may be concerned about coming forward and sharing their experiences, but we can assure you that your information and details will be treated in confidence.”

On February 11, British police revealed provisional autopsy results showing the 39 victims died of hypoxia (oxygen deprivation) and hyperthermia (overheating) in an enclosed space. The police are pushing ahead with investigation and identification of suspects.

Apart from the above-said suspects, Gheorghe Nica of Basildon in eastern England was detained at Germany’s Frankfurt airport on January 29. At a trial in Chelmsford, the UK, on February 1, the 43-year-old was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Another man, who is 22, was arrested in Northern Ireland on February 2 on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating unlawful immigration. He remains in police custody in southeast England but has not been charged or named yet./.

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VNF/The Guardian