Northern Irishman to be extradited over Vietnamese truck deaths

FILE PHOTO: Police are seen at the scene where bodies were discovered in a lorry container, in Grays, Essex, Britain October 23, 2019. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

DUBLIN (Reuters) - An Irish court on Friday approved the extradition of Northern Irishman Ronan Hughes to face manslaughter charges in Britain over the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people found in the back of a truck near London last year.

British authorities are also seeking Hughes, 40, on charges of immigration offences. Northern Irish truck driver Maurice Robinson pleaded guilty to 39 counts of manslaughter related to the deaths in March. The victims, 31 men and boys and eight women whose ages ranged from 15 to 44, were discovered in October in a container at the back of a truck driven by Robinson to an industrial estate in Grays in Essex, about 30 km east of London.

Ireland's High Court heard that UK authorities allege that Hughes organised the drivers and travel. Judge Paul Burns found that the alleged offences occurred in the United Kingdom and it had jurisdiction to prosecute them. Irish broadcaster RTE reported that Hughes asked to be surrendered to the UK authorities as soon as possible.

Another Northern Irishman, Eamonn Harrison, is appealing against his extradition to Britain in the Irish courts on similar charges.

UK authorities allege that Harrison delivered the trailer in which the people were found to a Belgian port before its onward journey to Britain, an Irish court heard last year.

Neither him nor Hughes have yet to enter a plea in relation to the substance of the allegations as their hearings have only concerned extradition.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Alison Williams

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