Ronan Hughes, who was arrested by the Irish authorities in April, stood before the Old Bailey criminal tribunal in a case that shocked all of Britain and Vietnam. A truck with dead Vietnamese was discovered on October 23 in Grays, near London. A refrigerated container attached to the tractor reached the south-east of England from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
Inside, investigators found the bodies of eight women and 31 men, including two 15-year-old boys, the oldest victim being 44 years old. It later emerged that they all came from poorer areas in Vietnam. Apparently they paid the smugglers to get them to Britain illegally. Police believe that their death was caused by a combination of heat and lack of air in the container.
Truck driver Maurice Robinson from Northern Ireland has previously confessed to killing migrants. A third man – Eamonn Harrison, who is also from Northern Ireland and extradited to Britain by the Dublin government – denied the same allegations.
According to Reuters, several others have been detained and charged in the UK and Vietnam over the deaths of migrants, and other legal proceedings are taking place in addition to the London trial.
The main trial in Old Bailey is scheduled for October 5 and could take up to eight weeks.