Belgian court sentences 15 years in prison for traveling with dead migrants – International

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On Wednesday, a criminal court in the Belgian city of Bruges sentenced a Vietnamese to 15 years in prison for his role in the case of 39 migrants who were found suffocated in a refrigerator truck in England.

Fu Van Hong, 45, was considered the leader of a people smuggling organization operating in Brussels.

The chief justice highlighted that Hung was running a “criminal organization” on Belgian soil, and allowed 115 people to cross the UK illegally between September 2018 and May 2020, when he was arrested.

Hong was also fined 1 million euros (about 1.13 million US dollars).

The case shocked the world on October 23, 2019, when 39 bodies were found inside a cold storage warehouse in Grays Industrial, east London.

The victims, 31 men and eight women aged between 15 and 44, are all from Vietnam. They died of suffocation and hyperthermia due to heat and lack of oxygen in the confined space of the container.

The route had reached England from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

The investigation established that at least 15 of its 39 passengers were removed from Belgium on October 22, before turning around to Berne (northern France), where the group hid in a cold storage area.

The network had two hiding places in the municipality of Anderlecht in Brussels. In these places, people who wished clandestine transit to the UK and who had previously transited through Germany or the Netherlands gathered.

According to the indictment, this network had organized “at least 130 transfers” from Southeast Asia to England. Each person paid an average of 24,000 euros (just over $27,000 USD).

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France, the United Kingdom and Vietnam have also filed lawsuits in the case.

In addition to Van Hong, the Belgian courts have tried 22 other defendants – mostly Vietnamese or Belgians of Vietnamese descent – the prosecution has demanded prison terms of between 12 months and 10 years.

In the UK, seven men were already sentenced in January 2021 to sentences ranging from three to 27 years in prison.

In Vietnam, four men were sentenced in September 2020 to terms ranging from two and a half years to seven and a half years in prison.

Meanwhile, in France, at least 26 people have been charged in the investigation that opened in Paris in May 2020.

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About the Author: Camelia Kirk

"Friendly zombie guru. Avid pop culture scholar. Freelance travel geek. Wannabe troublemaker. Coffee specialist."

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