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Police hunt Northern Irish brothers over 39 deaths in Essex lorry

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By Alastair Jamieson
Essex Police issued a picture of Christopher Hughes (left) and his brother Ronan
Essex Police issued a picture of Christopher Hughes (left) and his brother Ronan

British police are are hunting two brothers from Northern Ireland over the deaths of 39 people in the back of a truck near London last week.

Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, from Armagh are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking, Essex Police said.

"Finding and speaking to the Hughes brothers is crucial to our investigation," said Detective Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper.

Ronan Hughes, who also goes by the name Rowan, and Christopher have links to both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

Officers found the bodies in a refrigerated truck in Grays, near the River Thames east of London.

The driver, Maurice Robinson, 25, from Craigavon, Northern Ireland, appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates Court on Monday charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering. He is set to appear at the London's Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, on November 25.

Three other people arrested in connection with the deaths were released on bail on Saturday, while another man who police believe is of interest to the investigation was arrested in Dublin.