Man jailed for Vietnamese truck deaths in London court

By Reuters   July 11, 2023 | 06:11 pm PT
Man jailed for Vietnamese truck deaths in London court
Marius Draghici, a member of the gang responsible for the death of 39 Vietnamese smuggled in a truck in the U.K. in 2019, is held at a police station. Photo by Essex Police
A member of a people smuggling gang was jailed for nearly 13 years in a London court on Tuesday for the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese men, women and children who suffocated to death as they were being smuggled into Britain.

Marius Draghici was sentenced to 12 years and seven months at London's Old Bailey, having last month pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the 39 people in October 2019.

Judge Neil Garnham told Draghici: "Twenty-eight men, eight women and three children died agonizing deaths ... as a result of the conspiracy of which you were part."

Draghici is the eighth person to be sentenced in Britain over the 39 deaths, after seven others involved in the gang were jailed for a total of 92 years in 2021.

Essex Police, which led the investigation into the deaths, said in a statement that the force had made a promise to the 39 victims' families to deliver justice for their relatives.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper said: "We have never lost sight of that promise and the investigation team members have ensured that we have kept that promise."

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 nearly four years ago shocked Britain and Vietnam.

It also shone a spotlight on the illicit global trade that sends people from Asia, Africa and the Middle East on perilous journeys to the West.

Most of the 39 victims were from Nghe An and Ha Tinh provinces in north-central Vietnam, where poor job prospects and other factors spur migration.

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