Human Lives Human Rights: The Vietnamese head of a human trafficking gang was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a Belgian court on Wednesday.
The accused is alleged for the manslaughter of 39 compatriots who suffocated in an airtight shipping container smuggled into Britain in 2019.
The court also ordered Vo Van Hong, 45, to pay a 920,000 euro ($1.04 million) fine and gave prison terms of between 18 months and 10 years to 17 others for their roles in smuggling people from Vietnam to Britain.
Those convicted had cynically exploited the victims, said the three-judge panel in a ruling and were each charged nearly 25,000 euros for the trip to Britain, and treated them as a dehumanized cargo.
Among those convicted,11 people were from Vietnam who allowed their property to be used as a meeting point for migrants, sorted out documents or mobile phone SIM cards for the victims or acted as intermediaries.
Six taxi drivers, who took migrants mainly from Brussels to meeting points for various trafficking operations, were also convicted, including their leader, a Moroccan man who continued these activities even after the events of October 2019.
The bodies of 39 Vietnamese people were found inside a truck container that had boarded a ship in the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.
Last year, a British court convicted four men, including two truck drivers, for manslaughter and immigration offences and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from 13 to 27 years.
The discovery of so many dead people – two as young as 15 – in the back of the truck on an industrial estate to the east of London shocked Britain and Vietnam.