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UK police step up appeals over migrant lorry deaths

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Police officers drive away a lorry, with black plastic visible at the rear, 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 have come from Bulgaria. Essex Police said the people were all pronounced dead at the scene in an industrial park in Grays, east of London. Early indications suggest the victims are 38 adults and one teenager. A 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP)

Detectives probing the deaths of 39 Asian migrants in a refrigerated truck in southeast England renewed on Friday their appeal for two brothers in the haulage business to help with the investigation.

Essex Police said they wanted to speak to Ronan and Christopher Hughes from Northern Ireland in connection with the discovery of the bodies at an industrial estate in Grays, near London, last month.

Detective Chief Inspector Dan Stoten said on a visit to Belfast that officers had already spoken to Ronan Hughes by telephone but needed to talk to him again in person.

“Talking to Ronan and Christopher is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen the sooner we can progress and continue with our investigation,” he said.

The Hughes brothers, aged 40 and 34, are from the Armagh region of Northern Ireland and have links across the island of Ireland to the road haulage and shipping business, said Stoten.

“We urge anyone who has been in contact with them or has any information about where they are to get in contact with us,” he added.

Stoten revealed that police in Northern Ireland stopped a lorry believed to be connected to the brothers but no arrests were made.

Meanwhile the 25-year-old driver of the refrigerated lorry who is from Northern Ireland was remanded in custody when he appeared in court last week charged with manslaughter, money laundering and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Three other people have been arrested and released on police bail.

The victims — eight women and 31 men — were found in a truck that entered Britain on a ferry from Belgium. Several Vietnamese families fear their relatives are among the dead.

Post-mortem examinations are being carried out but no formal cause of death or identification have been released.


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