Belgian court convicts Vietnamese ringleader behind Grays container lorry tragedy

The Bruges correctional court convicted 18 people and imposed a 15-year jail term on the ringleader.

The container lorry where 39 people were found dead (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
The container lorry where 39 people were found dead (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

A Belgian court has convicted 18 people who were involved from Belgium in the 2019 deaths of 39 people from Vietnam whose bodies were found in the back of a container lorry in south east England.

The Bruges correctional court found what it called a Vietnamese ringleader in Belgium guilty and imposed a 15-year jail term.

Others were given one- to 10-year sentences while five were found not guilty.

The priest of the Vietnamese Catholic Cathedral in east London, Father Simon Thang Duc Nguyen, performs the service at the mass prayer and vigil for the 39 victims found dead inside the back of a lorry (Yui Mok/PA)
The priest of the Vietnamese Catholic Cathedral in east London, Father Simon Thang Duc Nguyen, performs the service at the mass prayer and vigil for the 39 victims found dead inside the back of a lorry (Yui Mok/PA)

It was still unclear if they would appeal against the sentence.

Over a year ago, a British court had already found a Romanian mechanic and Northern Irish lorry driver guilty of the deaths of the Vietnamese nationals, who were discovered dead in the town of Grays.

The victims, between the ages of 15 and 44, were found on October 23 2019, inside a refrigerated container that had arrived by ferry from Belgium.

The migrants came from impoverished villages and had paid people-smugglers thousands of dollars to take them on risky journeys to what they hoped would be better lives abroad.

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