Vietnam police will come to UK for truck death investigation

By Hoang Thuy, Hai Hung   October 29, 2019 | 02:00 am PT
Vietnam police will come to UK for truck death investigation
Police move the lorry container where 39 bodies were discovered in Grays, Essex, Britain, on October 23, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Peter Nicholls.
Police from Vietnam's Ministry of Public Security will travel to the U.K. to assist the investigation into 39 bodies found in a refrigerated container.

The ministry has arranged a delegation to serve the investigation and they are ready to go, Minister To Lam told the press in Hanoi on Tuesday.

The exact time that Vietnamese police will leave for the U.K. and their tasks in the investigation have not been revealed.

Lam said his ministry is coordinating with the U.K. authorities to organize the trip.

The ministry and the British embassy in Hanoi are also scheduled to arrange a teleconference between Lam and his British counterpart to exchange information on the case soon.

Lam said as soon as the U.K. confirms that there are Vietnamese victims, Vietnamese government will send people over to verify the identification and bring their bodies home.

"The government will provide assistance and the Ministry of Public Security will make it as convenient as possible for the victims' families," he said.

As of Tuesday, 28 families from Nghe An and its neighbor Ha Tinh Province have reported a loss of contact with family members in Europe, including the U.K. Local authorities are now trying to help these families provide information for identity verification.

On Monday, British authorities sent the files of four of the 39 victims to Vietnam for verification. DNA samples have also been taken from family members in Vietnam to verify whether their relatives were among the 39 deceased.

The Ministry of Public Security has said it is investigating possible involvement of individuals or groups who help Vietnamese emigrate illegally.

On October 23, U.K. emergency services discovered the bodies of 38 adults and one teenager, suspected immigrants, in a refrigerated container truck at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, Essex County, east of London.

Police initially believed all of the dead were Chinese nationals, but later said "this is now a developing picture" amid reports several may be Vietnamese.

Maurice Robinson, the 25-year-old truck driver, of Craigavon in Northern Ireland, has been charged with 39 counts of manslaughter and other offences including conspiracy to traffic people.

Three other people arrested in connection with the investigation have been released on bail until November 11-13.

Vietnam reported 490 human trafficking victims last year, according to the U.S.'s 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report.

Some 70 percent of Vietnamese trafficking cases in the U.K. between 2009 and 2016 were linked to labor exploitation, with young people forced to work in cannabis production and nail salons, according to a British government report released in 2018.

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