Police find 41 migrants alive in the back of a refrigerated truck in Greece in latest shocking example of ruthless human trafficking!
- The migrants, most of them Afghans, found in a lorry on motorway in Greece
- Officials said they were not injured and refrigeration system was not turned on
- They driver has been arrested after police stopped truck for a regular check
Police have discovered 41 migrants alive stowed in the back of a refrigerated truck on a motorway in Greece, officials today confirmed.
The migrants, most of them Afghans, were found hiding in the lorry during a routine check by police near the northern Greek city of Xanthi.
It is understood that none of the migrants were injured and the refrigeration system had not been turned on, officials said.
The driver, from Georgia, was arrested and taken into custody. The migrants were also taken to the nearby police station for identification.
‘The truck contained men and boys. Identifying their nationality will require a couple of days,’ a police source told AFP.
In Cyprus, more than a hundred migrants today arrived on a boat into Latchi Harbour, Chrysochous Bay, and were met by police and officials.
It is understood that most of the migrants – including women and children – were form Syria, however it is not known if they sailed via the Turkish mainland or northern Cyprus.
It comes after 39 bodies were discovered in a refrigerated truck in Essex last month. They are thought to have been Vietnamese.
Police began extradition proceedings in an effort to bring Eamonn Harrison, 22, from Ireland to the UK, who appeared at Dublin’s High Court on Friday, charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, as well as human trafficking and immigration offences.
Harrison, from Newry in Co Down, Northern Ireland was remanded in custody.
Police are also urging Ronan Hughes, 40, and his brother Christopher, 34, said to have links with the road haulage and shipping industries, to hand themselves in.
The pair, from Armagh in Northern Ireland, are wanted on suspicion of manslaughter and human trafficking.
Three others, two men aged 38 and 46, as well as a 38-year-old woman have also been arrested, and subsequently released on bail.
Who has been arrested or charged so far?
Lorry driver Maurice Robinson: Arrested on suspicion of murder, the 25-year-old was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, people trafficking and money laundering. He appeared in court in Chelmsford and will appear again at the Old Bailey.
Eamon Harrison, 20, from Northern Ireland: Arrested after getting off a ferry on Saturday afternoon.A blue Scania truck that he was driving has been impounded by the police. He was charged with manslaughter and trafficking offences
Joanna Maher, 38, and her husband Thomas, also 38: The Warrington couple who previously told MailOnline they had sold the container are understood to have been held on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and on suspicion of 39 counts of manslaughter. They have been bailed until next month.
Man, 48, from Northern Ireland: The latest arrest took place at Stansted Airport. The identity of the man has not yet been revealed, but police said he has been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to traffic people and suspicion of manslaughter.
Eight people in Vietnam: Police have announced they arrested eight people on Sunday November 3. None have been named
WANTED: British police on Friday asked two other suspects, brothers Ronan and Christopher Hughes, to turn themselves in.
Police say they have already spoke to Ronan Hughes by telephone but want to talk to the two in person. They are also wanted for manslaughter and trafficking charges.
Travelling through Greece is a regular route for people smugglers, who charge up to £10,000 a head in the back of a lorry for would-be asylum seekers.
The route is particularly popular with Afghans, who often have family and friends in the UK, and speak English.
Several of Greece’s eastern islands, all close to the Turkish coast, as well as the land border with Turkey in the northeast, are migrants’ preferred entry points.
The large presence of migrants on those islands – about 35,000 in all – has aroused the hostility of parts of the local population.
Local authorities complain the islands are turning into dumping grounds for migrants while the processing of asylum requests is very slow and expulsions of those deemed ineligible for asylum very few. The government has promised to speed up both processes.
The number of desperate attempts by migrants to get to Britain from Europe has been increasing steadily in recent months.
Over the weekend, the transfer of migrants from overcrowded camps on the islands to the Greek mainland continued, with authorities saying 415 arrived at the port of Eleusis west of Athens Saturday afternoon and another 380 expected around noon Sunday.
The migrants had been living on the island of Lesbos, at the Moria camp where almost 15,000 migrants still live in a space designed for 3,000. They were being transported by Greek Navy ships usually used to transport tanks.
A senior government official speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about certain aspects of government policy told The Associated Press that the government plans to move 5,000 migrants to the mainland over the next 15 days.
The official said the migrants will be housed in hotels, as the peak tourist season is over. He said some parts of the mainland, such as northern Greece, will be exempted because there are many migrant camps, or hotspots, there already.
He added that the government would cap the number of migrants at 0.8 percent of the local population per prefecture. He did not mention whether more permanent locations would be used in the future.
British funding for new security measures was first pledged as part of the Sandhurst agreement in 2018, when the UK agreed to pay £44.5m for detection technology.
Asylum seekers are technically obliged to claim asylum in their first safe country, but many Afghans are desperate to get to Britain.
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