The driver of a truck in which 39 people were found dead appeared in a British court via video link on manslaughter and people-trafficking charges on Monday.
The Vietnamese families of suspected victims spoke of their despair.
The discovery of the bodies in a refrigerated truck on an industrial estate east of London has shown a spotlight on the illicit global trade in people which sends the poor of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East on perilous journeys to the West.
Driver Maurice Robinson appeared in Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court via video link.
The 25-year-old, wearing a gray sweatshirt, spoke only to confirm his name and address. Robinson faces 39 counts of manslaughter as well as charges of conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering, police said.
“This involves a global ring facilitating the movement of a large number of immigrants into the UK,” Prosecution lawyer Ogheneruona Iguyovwe told the court.
She said that other suspects were still wanted.
Robinson made no application for bail. He was remanded in custody until Nov. 25, when the case will continue at the Old Bailey, London’s Central Criminal Court, and he will enter a plea.
The driver was arrested shortly after the discovery of the bodies in the early hours of Oct. 23 a few miles from the English port of Purfleet.
The container had travelled from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge.