A man has been charged with manslaughter and being part of a conspiracy that led to the deaths of 39 Vietnamese nationals found dead in a lorry in the UK.
The victims’ bodies were discovered in the back of a trailer, which had been transported by ferry from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet in Essex early on October 23, 2019.
Marius Mihai Draghici, 49, who was detained by police in Romania in August, was due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Saturday accused of being involved in the incident.
Mr Draghici is suspected to have been part of the network that co-ordinated immigrants’ illegal journeys to the UK.
He faces 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.
Seven people have already been convicted in the UK over the deaths of the migrants, who had travelled from Vietnam in the hope of better lives in Europe.
Others have been convicted in Vietnam over the smuggling effort.
The 31 men and eight women, aged between 15 and 44, would have suffered “excruciatingly painful” deaths, a British judge previously said.
A court heard that temperatures had risen to 40°C while the container was at sea in October 2019, with oxygen levels rising and no means of escape.