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Two men convicted in UK of killing 39 migrants found dead in truck container last year

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By Euronews  with AFP
Police forensic officers attend the scene after the bodies were discovered in a truck
Police forensic officers attend the scene after the bodies were discovered in a truck   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Alastair Grant, FILE

Two men have been found guilty of killing 39 migrants, whose bodies were found in the back of a lorry in Essex, UK, last year.

Four people-smugglers were convicted in total in connection with the deaths of the migrants, who were all Vietnamese.

Their bodies were found suffocated in a refrigerated lorry on October 23 last year in the town of Grays, just outside London.

Gheorghe Nica, 43, accused of being a key organiser of the traffic, and Eamonn Harrison, a 24-year-old truck driver, were convicted of manslaughter on Monday at London's Old Bailey criminal court.

Both had contested the charges. They will be sentenced at a later date.

Thirty-one men and eight women, including two 15-year-olds, were discovered on a trailer in the Grays industrial estate in east London. 

The container has travelled from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.

The migrants came from impoverished villages and are believed to have paid people-smugglers to take them on risky journeys to better lives abroad.

Two other suspects, Christopher Kennedy and Valentin Calota, were also convicted of people-smuggling on Monday at the end of a 10-week trial.

The two main suspects in the case, Maurice Robinson, who was driving the lorry when the bodies were discovered, and Ronan Hughes, a 40-year-old man from Northern Ireland suspected of having organised the movement of the drivers involved in the traffic, had previously pleaded guilty and will be the subject of a subsequent hearing to determine their sentences.