At a court in Paris today, 18 people received sentences of up to ten years for smuggling people from Vietnam to Europe. Among them are four Vietnamese convicted of the manslaughter of 39 migrants whose bodies were found in a refrigerated truck in Britain in October 2019.
One accused was acquitted today, AFP reported.
“You were fundamentally involved in organizing the transportation of people in distress who hoped for a better life,” said presiding judge Carole Bochter. “You created the conditions that led to the death of these individuals. If there were fewer of them, they might have survived,” said the judge.
The four main masterminds from Vietnam received conditional sentences of nine to ten years and a lifetime ban on entering France. Four other Vietnamese who arranged the transport and accommodation, two of whom are on the run, received sentences ranging from one year to ten years. Seven taxi drivers of French, Moroccan and Algerian nationality received sentences of up to three years and fines from 2,000 to 3,000 euros (49,000 to 73,700 crowns). According to the court, the men knew about people smuggling, but they were only interested in a one-time profit. Two Chinese and a Frenchman, who owned the apartments in which the migrants lived, received sentences of six to 12 months and fines of up to 10,000 euros (246,000 crowns).
Police arrested most of the group’s members in May 2020 around Paris and in Belgium. They were accused of organized people smuggling, aiding and abetting entry into the territory and criminal association. According to the Eurojust agency, the entire group focused on smuggling migrants from Asia, especially from Vietnam. It transported several dozen people to Europe every day for many months.
In October 2019, the bodies of 31 men and eight women, two of the victims as young as 15, were discovered in a refrigerated container on an industrial estate east of London.
In January 2021, a London court sentenced four men previously found guilty of the smuggling and deaths of 39 migrants from Vietnam in 2019 to prison terms ranging from 13 to 27 years. A year later, a Belgian court sentenced a 45-year-old Vietnamese man to 15 years in prison for his role in migrant smuggling to England. (ČTK)