Church service for 39 migrant victims

A special service will be held for the 39 migrants who died in the back of a freezer truck. It will be at St Paul’s RC Church, Maison Dieu Road, Dover, from 6pm on Saturday, November 16.

Police at the scene of the grim discovery in Essex with the lorry that had the bodies. Picture: UKNIP

The victims are now believed to be Vietnamese and members of their community will attend. Parish priest Father Jeff Cridland said: “The mass will be offered for the repose of the souls of those who died, for their families and to pray to rid the world of the evil of human trafficking.

“Everyone is welcome to attend and clergy of all denominations are invited to robe and process.”

Among those taking part in the service will be Malcolm Sawyer, a chaplain for the Port of Dover, and Ben Bano, a director of Seeking Sanctuary, which raises awareness of the plight of migrants. This is the worst mass migrant tragedy involving people entering Britain since 58 Chinese were found dead in the back of a lorry in Dover in 2000.

Police at the scene in Essex on October 23. Picture: UKNIP

The 39 bodies were found in a refrigerated trailer on October 23 at Waterglade Retail Park in Grays, Essex. The lorry had come from Zeebrugge to the Port of Purfleet in Essex.

The victims, in initial reports, were thought to have all been Chinese.

The tragedy has led to a global investigation involving police in Britain, Belgium, Northern Ireland, where some suspects are from, and Vietnam where eight people have now been arrested. One of two Northern Irishmen charged is the lorry driver, Maurice Robinson from Craigavon, County Armagh. He is charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, money laundering and conspiracy to traffic people and assisting unlawful immigration.

He is next due to appear at the Old Bailey on November 25. Meanwhile Eamonn Harrison, from Mayobridge, Co Down. appeared in court last Friday also changed with 39 counts of manslaughter.

He is believed to have delivered the lorry container to Zeebrugge, Belgium, and is accused of conspiracy to commit human trafficking and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration. Two other men, Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, also both from Armagh, are being hunted by police on suspicion of manslaughter.

Essex Police say that three other people arrested in connection to the investigation have been released on bail. Read more: All the latest news from Dartford Read more: All the latest news from Dover

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