A human trafficker who caused the deaths of dozens of Vietnamese illegal immigrants in the United Kingdom was ordered by a court on Friday to compensate the victims’ families.
What happened: Thirty-nine Vietnamese nationals were found dead on Oct. 23, 2019, in a trailer that smuggled them from Belgium to Purfleet in Essex, southeast England. The victims, aged 15 to 44, spent at least 12 hours in the confined space and suffocated as its temperatures reached a feverish 38.5 degrees Celsius.
The sentence: Gheorghe Nica, a 46-year-old Romanian living in the U.K., was one of those found guilty of 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiring to assist illegal immigration. He was sentenced to 27 years in prison in January 2021.
Court order: On Friday, the Central Criminal Court ordered Nica to pay 65,157 British pounds ($82,720) to the victims’ families in compensation. He must do so in three months or face an additional year in prison.
Others convicted in the case have also been ordered to make compensations. Irish national Ronan Hughes, who helped coordinate the smuggling, was previously ordered to pay over 180,000 British pounds (approximately $228,500) after being sentenced to 20 years in prison.
What’s next: In a statement, Detective Chief Inspector Louise Metcalfe, senior investigating officer with the Essex Police, said they will never stop pursuing each of the defendants and ensure that “the families are paid the maximum amount possible.”
Darren Fox, a specialist prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) Proceeds of Crime Division, echoed the police’s statement, saying “We will continue to ensure that money will be paid by defendants for the proceeds of these awful crimes.”
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