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Police arrest, charge Irish suspect in deaths of 39 found in trailer

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Police arrest, charge Irish suspect in deaths of 39 found in trailer
Police drive the truck container away from the Waterglade Industrial Park in Essex, Britain, on October 23. Photo by Vickie Flores/EPA-EFE

Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Irish prosecutors charged a 23-year-old man Friday in the case of 39 bodies that were found in a truck trailer near London last week, officials said.

Eamon Harrison, who was captured on an arrest warrant Friday, appeared in a Dublin court to face 41 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy. Irish and British officials are working to extradite him to Essex. Police say Harrison delivered the trailer to a location in Belgium, where it was picked up and taken to Essex.

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Investigators are also searching for several other suspects, including two brothers from Northern Ireland. Earlier Friday, police made a direct appeal to Ronan and Christopher Hughes to turn themselves in. Authorities identified them as suspects in the case on Tuesday.

"I want to make a direct appeal. Ronan and Christopher hand yourself in to police. We need you both to come forward and assist us with this investigation," said Essex Police Inspector Daniel Stoten.

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"Finding Ronan and Christopher Hughes is crucial to our investigation and the sooner we can make this happen, the sooner we can get on with our [investigation] and bring those responsible for these tragic deaths to justice."

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Police said they have already spoken with the Hughes brothers on the phone, but said it's crucial they meet them in person. A truck connected to the brothers was stopped and seized by authorities Thursday.

The bodies of eight women and 31 men were found in a refrigerated trailer on Oct. 23. Detectives said all were Chinese nationals, but Vietnamese families believe some of their relatives could be among the dead.

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Analysts say trafficking in Britain has proved to be more difficult and dangerous in recent years.

"The boarding places change all the time," trafficking expert Thi Hiep Nguyen told BBC News. "It's quicker if they can find a truck that's going directly from Belgium or Germany, and they can avoid Paris. But only the richest can afford to go that way."

The truck's driver, Maurice Robinson, appeared in court Monday to face 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.

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