Irish trucker in court over deaths of 39 people in container


LONDON (AP) – An Irish truck driver appeared in an English court Wednesday, accused of the manslaughter of 39 people who were found dead in a container in southeastern England in an apparent people-smuggling tragedy.

Ronan Hughes, 40, appeared by at Southend Magistrates Court, east of London, by video link from a police station, after being extradited from Ireland.

The Vietnamese nationals were found Oct. 23 in an industrial park in the English town of Grays inside a refrigerated container that had arrived by ferry from Belgium.

The victims came from impoverished villages in Vietnam and are believed to have paid people smugglers to take them on risky journeys to better lives abroad.

The truck’s driver, Maurice Robinson, 25, admitted 39 counts of manslaughter in April. He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Hughes wasn’t asked to enter a plea and was ordered detained until a plea hearing at London’s Central Criminal Court on July 22.