|The scene of the incident in which 39 Vietnamese citizens were found dead in the back of a lorry. — Xinhua/VNA Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam and the United Kingdom were "in the process of completing" legal and technical procedures to repatriate the bodies of 39 Vietnamese migrants who died near London late last month, said Việt Nam’s deputy foreign minister Bùi Thanh Sơn on Monday.
Along with technical procedures, the return of the bodies required approval by the UK’s judges, Sơn said on the sidelines of the ongoing National Assembly meeting in Hà Nội.
“Regarding legal procedures, the return of the bodies requires approval from the court in England,” Sơn said.
“The two sides are working hard to bring back the victims’ remains as soon as possible,” said the deputy minister.
According to the deputy minister, most of the victims’ families wanted to receive the bodies and few agreed to receive cremated remains.
Last week, Sơn said that the Vietnamese Government would pay in advance for the return of the bodies and cremains. The victims’ families would then refund the Government.
The diplomat also said that if any charity, businesses or benefactors wish to provide support for the victims' families, they could work directly with the families and local governments.
In a related move, British police have charged a 23-year-old man from Northern Ireland with human trafficking as part of their inquiry into the deaths of 39 people found in the back of a container truck near London last month, reported the Vietnam News Agency.
Police said in a statement that Christopher Kennedy was arrested on November 22 and is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court in England on Monday.
The Crown Prosecution Service has authorised charges of conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of people with a view to exploitation, and conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law, it said.
Maurice Robinson, the 25-year-old driver of the lorry, pleaded guilty on Monday to assisting unlawful immigration and to acquiring criminal property. Appearing by video link from Belmarsh Prison in east London, Maurice Robinson, 25, did not enter a plea to 41 other charges, including 39 counts of manslaughter.
A second man, Eamonn Harrison, 23, from Northern Ireland, who was charged with the same offences, was brought to a court in Dublin on November 21. — VNS