Belgian justice on Wednesday sentenced a 45-year-old Vietnamese to fifteen years in prison for having played a leading role in the smuggling of migrants which resulted in the death of 39 of his compatriots in a container in London in 2019.
Vo Van Hong was considered in the Belgian part of the investigation as the leader of the organization having acted from Brussels, where at least 15 of the victims had been taken care of. The network of traffickers had two hideouts in the Brussels municipality of Anderlecht.
Asphyxia and hyperthermia
A total of 39 bodies were found on October 23, 2019 in the back of a truck in the industrial area of Grays, east London. It is one of the most shocking immigration dramas of recent years. The victims – 31 men and eight women, aged 15 to 44 – were all from Vietnam. They died of asphyxiation and hyperthermia due to the heat and lack of oxygen in the confined space of the container.
The container had arrived on British soil from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, and an investigation had quickly been opened in Belgium to identify the relays of this trafficking in human beings who had acted from Belgian territory.
“A criminal organization”
A total of 23 people, mainly Vietnamese or Belgians of Vietnamese origin, were tried in December 2021 before the Bruges Criminal Court. In the delivery of the judgment, which began Wednesday around 9:30 a.m. (8:30 a.m. GMT), the president of the court was to detail the responsibilities of each. The president began with the case of Vo Van Hong, convicted of leading “a criminal organisation” in Belgium that allowed the smuggling to the UK of a total of “115 people” identified between September 2018 and May 2020, date of his arrest.
The sentence pronounced corresponds precisely to that requested by the federal prosecutor’s office in its indictment, namely the maximum sentence provided for these facts. Vo Van Hong was also fined nearly 1 million euros. Against his 22 co-defendants, sentences ranging from one to ten years in prison were required. In addition to Vo Van Hong, four defendants appear detained.