Man faces extradition from Ireland over 39 migrant lorry deaths

A man is facing extradition from Ireland over the deaths of 39 migrants found in the back of a lorry in Essex.

Eamonn Harrison, 22, appeared in Dublin High Court on Friday after he was arrested on a European Arrest Warrant,  a court spokesman said.

Harrison, of Newry in Co Down,  Northern Ireland, has been remanded in custody in Cloverhill Prison, Dublin, until November 11.

It comes as local media reported police in Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province arrested two people in connection with the deaths after launching an investigation into suspected human trafficking.

Meanwhile, it is understood wanted suspect Ronan Hughes, 40, has twice spoken to police by telephone.

Detectives have urged him and his brother Christopher, 34, who are both from Armagh in Northern Ireland, to hand themselves in.

The pair are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking after the bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer attached to a lorry in an industrial park in Grays in the early hours of Wednesday October 23.

Ronan Hughes is understood to have identified himself to a custody officer after calling Essex Police shortly after lorry driver Mo Robinson, 25, was arrested following the discovery.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective later called Hughes and had a conversation with him, it is understood.

Essex Police Detective Chief Inspector Daniel Stoten told reporters at a press conference in Northern Ireland on Friday: “Today I want to make a direct appeal – Ronan and Christopher, hand yourselves in to the PSNI.

“We need you both to come forward and assist this investigation.

“Although we have already spoken to Ronan Hughes recently by telephone, we need to have a conversation with him and his brother 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.”

The detective said a lorry believed to be connected to the brothers was stopped and seized by the PSNI on Thursday but no further arrests were made.

They are said to have links to Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as with the road haulage and shipping industries.

Mo Robinson in court
Court artist sketch of Mo Robinson (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Robinson, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

Three other people arrested in connection with the incident – two men aged 38 and 46 and a 38-year-old woman – have been released on bail.

The discovery has sparked a huge international investigation to try to identify the victims.

Essex Police initially believed the 39 were all Chinese nationals but it is now thought Vietnamese men and women are among the dead.

It is not yet known when the victims entered the trailer, where temperatures can be as low as -25C if the fridge is activated, or the exact route it travelled before crossing from Zeebrugge in Belgium to Purfleet.

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