A man extradited from Italy to face charges of killing 39 migrants in a truck in Essex

A man from Italy has been handed over to a British court in connection with an investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese immigrants found in a refrigerated trailer truck.

Essex police said Ragus Stefan Damien, 27, was extradited from Italy on Thursday after he was arrested on June 10 outside Milan.

He appeared in Colchester Magistrates Court on Friday on charges of conspiring to aid illegal immigration and encouraging or aiding the commission of a crime.

A court official said his next hearing will be at the Old Bailey on October 1.

The bodies of 39 Vietnamese nationals were found in an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, shortly after the trailer arrived on a ferry from Zeebrugge, Belgium in the early hours of October 23, 2019.

Among the men, women and children were 10 teenagers, two of whom were 15 years old.

A number of people, including several from Northern Ireland, have already been convicted for their role in the tragedy.

Among them, carrier owner Ronan Hughes, of Armagh, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for 39 counts of premeditated murder and conspiracy to bring people into the country illegally. Ringleader Gheorghe Nica (43), from Essex, has been sentenced to 27 years in prison.

Truck driver Eamonn Harrison, 24, of Newry, who delivered the trailer to Zeebrugge, was sentenced to 18 years in prison, while Maurice Robinson, 26, of Craigavon, who collected the trailer from Purfleet and discovered the bodies, was sentenced to 13. year for manslaughter and human smuggling.

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