Driver Charged With Deaths of 39 in Smuggler’s Truck Makes First Court Appearance

Police officers drive away a lorry (C) in which 39 dead bodies were discovered sparking a murder investigation at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays, east of London, on October 23, 2019. - British police said 39 bodies were found near London Wednesday in the container of a truck thought to …
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Associated Press — The driver charged with manslaughter in the deaths of 39 people found in the back of his truck has made his first court appearance in Britain.

Maurice Robinson appeared in Chelmsford Magistrates Court via a video link from prison Monday but was not required to enter a plea.

The 25-year-old will be kept in custody until he appears at a higher court on Nov. 25, where he will be expected to enter a plea.

He is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, two counts of conspiracy to facilitate human trafficking and other crimes.

His lawyer did not request that Robinson be freed on bail.


Britain’s prime minister has signed a condolence book honoring the 39 people who died in a refrigerated truck container in southeastern England last week.

Boris Johnson wrote in the book Monday at the Thurrock Council office that “the whole nation, and indeed the world, has been shocked by this tragedy.” He says the victims were “innocent people who were hoping for a better life in this country.”

Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel joined emergency service workers to pay their respects to the victims. He plans to place a wreath in remembrance.

The prime minister renewed his pledge to find those responsible for the truck deaths.

A message left by Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured in a book of condolence during his visit to Thurrock Council Offices in Thurrock, east of London on October 28, 2019, following the October 23, 2019, discovery of 39 bodies concealed in a lorry. – British police investigating the deaths of 39 people in a refrigerated truck charged the driver on Saturday with manslaughter and people trafficking, as families in Vietnam expressed fear their loved ones were among the dead. (Photo by STEFAN ROUSSEAU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson signs a book of condolence during a visit to Thurrock Council Offices in Thurrock, east of London on October 28, 2019, following the October 23, 2019, discovery of 39 bodies concealed in a lorry. – British police investigating the deaths of 39 people in a refrigerated truck charged the driver on Saturday with manslaughter and people trafficking, as families in Vietnam expressed fear their loved ones were among the dead. (Photo by STEFAN ROUSSEAU/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)


Britain’s ambassador has met with Vietnamese officials to discuss cooperation in the identification of 39 bodies that were found in a truck in southeastern England.

Ambassador Gareth Ward said he told Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security that Britain still has not confirmed the identities or nationalities of the victims.

British police initially believed the victims were Chinese, but later acknowledged that details about the bodies found last Wednesday were still evolving. Up to two dozen Vietnamese families have since reported missing relatives whom they fear to be among the dead.

Ward said in a statement Monday that the British government is aware of Vietnamese concern and that he discussed how Britain would work closely with Vietnam on the identification process.

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5:20 p.m.

China says it has asked British authorities to provide more information on the identity of 39 people who were found dead in a truck in southeastern England last week.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Monday that the U.K. has not confirmed the victims’ nationalities. British police initially believed they were Chinese, but later acknowledged that the details were still evolving.

Geng described reports that the victims had Chinese passports as “speculation.”

The spokesman added that the Chinese embassies in Vietnam and the U.K. are in close contact with their counterparts in those countries.

He said he hoped “parties concerned about this incident should make remarks based on facts, instead of making subjective guesswork from first impressions.”

Dozens of Vietnamese families have reported missing relatives whom they fear are among the dead.

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4:45 p.m.

Vietnam says it has received from British authorities the documents of four of the people found dead in the back of a truck in England last week to help determine whether any of them are Vietnamese.

Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Thanh Son was cited by the VNExpress news website as saying Monday that the documents were handed over to ministry of public security. He said the documents will be used to help identify the victims.

It was not immediately clear what type of documents were sent.

British police initially believed the victims were Chinese, but later acknowledged that details around the bodies found last Wednesday in southeastern England were still evolving. Up to 24 Vietnamese families have since reported missing relatives whom they fear to be among the dead.

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2:35 p.m.

China says it hopes the U.K. can quickly identify the 39 people who were found dead in the back of a sealed truck in southeastern England.

Police initially believed the victims were Chinese, but dozens of Vietnamese families have since reported missing relatives whom they suspect to be among the dead.

China’s Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong called on the international community Monday to work together against illegal immigration.

Chen said the case “needs to be jointly dealt with and properly resolved by all parties concerned so that we can prevent a tragedy like this from repeating in the future.”

British authorities charged the 25-year-old truck driver with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people. He is expected in court Monday.

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