Vietnam has jailed four people over their roles in the death of 39 migrants found in a refrigerated truck in the UK last year, state media said.
The deaths of the 31 men and eight women from Vietnam, who were found in a vehicle near London in October, highlighted the enormous risks of illegal migration to Europe and sparked an international outcry.
The four defendants — the youngest aged 26 and the oldest 36 — were given prison sentences of between two-and-a-half years and seven-and-a-half years by a court in Ha Tinh Province on Monday, the official provincial newspaper reported.
They were found guilty of “organizing, brokering illegal emigration,” it said, adding that three others had been given suspended sentences.
However, Nguyen Dinh Gia, who lost his 20-year-old son, Luong, in the tragedy, told reporters that he believed the defendants should not have been given jail terms.
“The people involved were just trying to help and then the accident happened,” he said, adding that he had not known the trial was taking place. “He was an adult who made his own decision and joined the trip voluntarily with the aim to improve his life, earning money to alleviate our poverty.”
Gia said his son had wanted to travel to the UK from France, where he had been living illegally since 2018.
The journey to the UK, where he aimed to look for work in a nail salon, would have cost him about ￡11,000 (US$14,177).
“It has been almost a year, but whenever I think about this, it’s still painful,” Gia said.
Luong and the majority of the other migrants came from a handful of poor central provinces, hotspots for illegal migration to Europe.
The truck carrying the victims — including two 15-year-old boys — arrived on a ferry from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in the early hours of Oct. 23 last year.
They died from lack of oxygen and overheating, post-mortem examinations found.
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