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British police charge truck driver with 39 manslaughter counts

Police on Saturday charged a truck driver with 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiracy to traffic people in connection with 39 deaths in the back of the truck he was driving in southeastern England.
Police said Maurice Robinson, 25, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on Monday. He was the first of those arrested to be charged in what is seen as one of the UK's biggest cases of people smuggling.
Four others have been arrested in the case. Police are struggling to identify the victims, who are believed to have come from Asia, and autopsies are being performed. The Vietnamese Embassy in London has set up a hotline for families to call about missing family members. The Vietnamese government has also announced its own investigation into the deaths.
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore said the victims have not been identified and very few documents were found with the bodies.
Police initially believed the victims were Chinese but later acknowledged that the details were still evolving. Attention shifted to Vietnam after the family of a 26-year-old Vietnamese woman released text messages suggesting she had suffocated in the truck.
Pasmore again appealed to those who might have information on the victims to help with inquiries.
Four people have been arrested so far in the case, one of Britain's deadliest smuggling disasters.


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