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Police officers at the scene in October where the bodies were found. Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Two people arrested by UK police over Essex lorry deaths

One of the men arrested is from Northern Ireland.

POLICE IN THE UK have arrested two men in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals in Essex last year. 

Police found the bodies of eight women and 31 men in a refrigerated container on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, last October.

A 22-year-old man was arrested in Northern Ireland on Sunday on suspicion of manslaughter and facilitating unlawful immigration in connection with the deaths. 

Essex Police also said that Gheorghe Nica, 43, from Essex, has also been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration after being detained at Frankfurt Airport in Germany in January and brought back to the UK on a European Arrest Warrant.

Nica appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Saturday and will next appear at the Old Bailey on 16 March.

The force added that post-mortem examinations had been completed and the provisional cause of death for all those who died was a combination of lack of oxygen and overheating in an enclosed space.

Last year, the victims were identified as coming from various provinces of Vietnam with the youngest being two boys aged 15.

In November, the driver of the lorry, 25-year-old Maurice Robinson, pleaded guilty to plotting to assist illegal immigration. 

In January, a High Court judge ordered the extradition of a Northern Irish man, Eamon Harrison, to face 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and conspiracy to commit human trafficking under the UK’s Modern Slavery Act.

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 With reporting from Dominic McGrath