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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 7 April, 2020

Vietnam 'strongly condemns' human trafficking after confirmation all Essex lorry victims were Vietnamese

Eight women and 31 men were found dead in a refrigerated container in Essex last week.

The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaving Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex
The container lorry where 39 people were found dead inside leaving Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

VIETNAM HAS SAID it “strongly condemns” human trafficking, after British police confirmed 39 people found dead in a truck last week are believed to be Vietnamese. 

Most of the victims are thought to come from central Vietnam, where easy-to-find brokers help to arrange trips to Europe – often via Russia – for migrants hoping to earn money overseas. 

The extreme risks of the journeys were laid bare after eight women and 31 men were found dead in a refrigerated container in Essex, east of London, on 23 October. 

Vietnam said today it “strongly condemns human trafficking and considers it a serious crime,” according to a statement from foreign ministry spokesperson.

She called the incident a “serious humanitarian tragedy”, urging help to tackle the scourge of trafficking.

Vietnam calls upon countries in the region and around the world to step up cooperation in combating human trafficking in order to prevent the recurrence of such tragedy.

Officials are now working to identify the victims after DNA samples were collected from families in Ha Tinh and Nghe An provinces in central Vietnam.  

“I think my son could be among the 39 dead,” one man told AFP today from Ha Tinh province where he has been anxiously waiting for news about his child.

The lorry driver, 25-year-old Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson, from Northern Ireland, appeared in court on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

A court heard that Robinson is part of a “global ring” involved in smuggling large numbers of people into the UK.

Three others – a 38-year-old man, a 38-year-old woman and a 46-year-old man – have all been released on bail until next month.

Two people were arrested in central Ha Tinh province for human trafficking yesterday, as UK police sought more suspects. 

In Dublin, a Northern Irishman appeared at the High Court for the start of extradition proceedings to bring him to Britain in connection with the incident. 


Yesterday, Essex Police made a direct appeal to two brothers it wants to speak to as part of its investigation into the deaths.

Armagh natives Ronan – also called Rowan – Hughes (40) and Christopher (34) Hughes are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.

The brothers are believed to have links in Northern Ireland and the Republic, as well as the road haulage and shipping industries.

Speaking in Belfast, Essex Police Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten said: “Ronan and Christopher, hand yourself into police. We need you both to come forward and assist this investigation.”

He urged anyone with information in relation to the Hughes brothers to contact the PSNI on 101 or online at

Includes reporting by - © AFP 2019 

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