LONDON (AFP) — A jury panel was chosen on Monday in the trial of four men in connection with the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants whose bodies were found in a lorry in southeast England.
The grim discovery of 31 men and eight women inside the container truck on an industrial estate east of London last year threw fresh light on the plight of migrants desperate to reach Britain.
A post-mortem examination found the victims — 10 of them teenagers, including two 15-year-old boys — died from lack of oxygen and overheating in the refrigerated lorry.
Eamonn Harrison, 23, of Mayobridge in Northern Ireland, is accused of having driven the lorry trailer to the Belgian port of Zeebrugge before it sailed to the Essex port of Purfleet.
He faces 39 counts of manslaughter and one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration, along with Gheorge Nica, 43, of Basildon in Essex.
Valentin Calota, 37, of Birmingham, central England, and Christopher Kennedy, 24, of County Armagh, Northern Ireland, are charged with being part of the people-smuggling conspiracy.
All four have pleaded not guilty.
The jury pool of 22 at the Old Bailey court was selected and sent away until Wednesday when prosecutors are expected to open the case, which may last for five weeks.
© Agence France-Presse