Gardaí arrest man sought for extradition over Essex deaths

Ronan Hughes (40s) was charged on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by UK police

A man from Northern Ireland is to appear before the High Court on Tuesday to face extradition in relation to the deaths of 39 illegal immigrants in Essex last year.

The Garda Press Office said they have arrested and charged a man in his 40s on foot of a European Arrest Warrant issued by the police in Essex.

Ronan Hughes is due to appear before the High Court, Criminal Courts of Justice, Dublin on Tuesday morning, for an extradition hearing.

Mr Hughes was arrested in relation to the incident which saw 39 Vietnamese men and women die inside a refrigerated trailer last October.

The eight women and 31 men had arrived in England on a ferry from Zeebrugge, in Belgium. The youngest of the victims were two boys aged 15.

Mr Hughes, with an address in Co Armagh, is to face 39 charges of manslaughter in England.

Last November, police in England called on Mr Hughes and his brother Christopher Hughes (34) to hand themselves in.

Earlier this month Maurice Robinson (25), of Craigavon, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in relation to the deaths.

He had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and acquiring criminal property. He denied a further charge of transferring criminal property.

Robinson was jointly charged with Gheorghe Nica (43), of Mimosa Close in Langdon Hills, Essex, who denied 39 counts of manslaughter. He also denied one count of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Alexandru-Ovidiu Hanga, (27), of Hobart Road in Tilbury, denied a charge of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Christopher Kennedy (23), of Corkley Road in Darkley, Co Armagh, has previously denied conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

Valentin Calota (37), of Cossington Road in Birmingham, was not asked to enter a plea to the charge of conspiring to assist unlawful immigration.

Prosecutor William Emlyn Jones QC said a human trafficking conspiracy charge was being dropped in relation to Robinson and Mr Kennedy.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent