Belgium: Vietnamese man sentenced to 15 years in prison for smuggling migrants

He was convicted of his role in a migrant trafficking case that resulted in the death of 39 of his compatriots.

BCDECCDD BEF2 4617 AFD4 FCD916615135 BELGIUM, Death, Sentence, Immigrants

A 45-year-old Vietnamese man was sentenced today in Belgium to 15 years in prison for his role in a migrant trafficking case, which resulted in the death of 39 of his compatriots who were in a container in 2019.

Bo Van Hong is considered by Belgian justice to be the head of an organization based in Brussels, where at least 15 of the victims had boarded the container. The traffickers' network had two hideouts, one in Brussels and one in Anderlecht.

A total of 39 bodies were found on October 23, 2019 in a truck in Grace Industrial Area, East London. This is one of the most creepy tragedies with immigrants in recent years.

The victims - 31 men and eight women, aged 15 to 44 - all came from Vietnam. They died of suffocation and hyperthermia due to the heat and lack of oxygen.

The container arrived in British territory from the Belgian port of Zeebrugges and an investigation was soon launched in Belgium to identify the members of the network involved in the trafficking of people from Belgian territory.

A total of 23 people, mostly Vietnamese and Belgians of Vietnamese descent, were tried in a Bruges court in December 2021.

Bo Van Hong was found guilty of running a "criminal organization" in Belgium that helped illegal immigrants cross into Britain. A total of "115 people" were identified from September 2018 to May 2020, when he was arrested.

The sentence imposed on him was the one requested by the federal prosecutor, that is, the maximum provided for the crimes for which he was charged. He was also fined almost 1m euros.

At the same time, Nguyen Long, a 46-year-old Vietnamese man who is considered a key associate of Bo Van Hong and who continued his activities until June 2021, was sentenced to ten years in prison, while another man was sentenced to seven years in prison.

The tragedy in Grace has brought to light the dangers posed by trafficking networks to illegal immigrants. Many of the victims came from a poor area of ​​central Vietnam. There families are charged exorbitant sums in order to be able to send a member to Britain in the hope of a better life.

In Britain, seven people were sentenced in January 2021 to three to 27 years in prison in the same case, while in France at least 26 people have been charged.

Source: RES-EAP