A Vietnamese man who was arrested in the United Kingdom after 39 people were found dead in a truck will be extradited to Belgium to face charges.
The man – reportedly an 18-year old Vietnamese national named Alex Tran – is wanted by Belgian authorities for his role in a people-smuggling plot that led to the deaths of 38 Vietnamese adults and one teenager. The bodies were found in a refrigerated lorry trailer that entered England via Zeebrugge in 2019.
'Belgian prosecutors allege that Tran (who claims to be 17 and has a different name) was part of a people-smuggling network that moved migrants through Belgium and France and into the UK in the back of lorries,' a statement from the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) read.
He is suspected of running so-called safe houses in Brussels and putting the migrants in taxis to France, where they were picked up to be put into trucks, Belga News Agency reports. The NCA previously said that he played a "key role" in putting at least ten migrants in the lorry.
Tran was detained by NCA officers at a supermarket petrol station near Middlesbrough on 17 June this year. A Belgian investigating magistrate originally issued an arrest warrant in December 2020. On Thursday, Westminster Magistrates Court approved his extradition.
92-year prison sentences
Another man wanted by Belgium in connection with the case, Ngo Sy Tai, was extradited in November this year, having been arrested by the NCA in Worcestershire in December 2020.
This announcement follows the convictions of seven people in the UK for their roles in the events, including four men who were found guilty of manslaughter. The seven were given jail terms totalling more than 92 years in January 2021.
Tran, who was remanded in custody, has seven days to appeal the decision made by the court.