FRIDAY, Oct 25
British police have confirmed the 39 people – 31 men and eight women – found dead in the back of a truck near London were Chinese.
The revelation came as police continued to question Northern Ireland driver of the vehicle that pulled the trailer, after arresting him on suspicion of murder.
Police in the UK and Belgium are now investigating a multinational people-smuggling operation most likely based out of Northern Ireland.
Police searched three properties in Northern Ireland as part of the investigation, which is the largest murder investigation in the force’s history.
The discovery of the bodies was similar to a case in 2000 when the bodies of 60 Chinese illegal immigrants who had paid a criminal gang to be smuggled into the UK were found in a sealed, airless container in Dover.Two survived.
In both cases, the sealed container left a freight port in Belgium packed with dying human cargo.
Officials estimate there are up to 40,000 illegal entries into the UK each year
The trailer containing the 39 dead, including a teenager, arrived at Purfleet from Zeebrugge in Belgium about 12.30am on Wednesday and the front section to which it was attached, known as the tractor, came from Northern Ireland.
The truck and trailer left the port at Purfleet shortly after 1.05am and officers were called about 30 minutes later after ambulance staff made the discovery at Waterglade Industrial Park in Grays.
The driver is from Portadown, County Armagh. Councillor Paul Berry said the village of Laurelvale, where the Robinson family live, was in “complete shock”.
The deaths follow warnings from the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Border Force of the increased risk of people-smuggling via Belgium and into quieter ports such as Purfleet.
The NCA previously said it had a “greater focus” on rising smuggler numbers in Belgium after the closure of a migrant camp, and a Border Force assessment highlighted Zeebrugge as being among “key ports of embarkation for clandestine arrivals”.
The NCA has also warned that criminal networks are suspected to have started targeting quieter ports on the east and south coasts of the UK as well as the main Channel crossing between Calais and Dover.
Shaun Sawyer, the national spokesman for British police on human trafficking, said many thousands of people were seeking to come to the United Kingdom.
While they were able to rescue many of those smuggled into the country, Britain was perceived by organised crime as a potentially easy target for traffickers.
“You can’t turn the United Kingdom into a fortress. We have to accept that we have permeable borders,” he told BBC radio.
Home Secretary Priti Patel had a meeting with Essex police on Thursday morning to receive an update on the investigation.
ABC Radio Brisbane reports that a Queensland high school is the first in the state to have a doctor onsite to help students with their overall wellbeing, and in turn boost their academic performance.
Reporter Jessica Hinchliffe said Mabel Park State High School at Slacks Creek, 20 kilometres south of Brisbane, started the project six months ago after seeing similar projects overseas and in Victoria.
Partnering with the University of Queensland (UQ) Health Care, students can gain access to a GP clinic within the school once a week.
Mabel Park State High principal Mick Hornby was quoted as saying the changes to the students have been remarkable.
“There was one student who we struggled to engage in learning and his parents couldn’t get him to a doctor, so I saw it as my role as a principal to creating a learning environment,” Mr Hornby told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Rebecca Levingston.
“My teachers couldn’t teach him, as medically there were health issues, so that really pushed us to find a solution.”
Medical Director for Integrated Care at Children’s Health Queensland, Dana Newcomb, loved the GP-in-schools idea so much that she came on board as the in-school doctor.
“Adolescence is the time when many adult physical and mental health problems begin to emerge, and yet young people aged 12 to 17 are the least likely of any age group to see a GP,” Dr Newcomb said.
“The reasons for this can be cost, lack of transport, embarrassment or a desire for confidentiality from parents. Sometimes it’s just not knowing how the health system works.
“Mabel Park is a school where these challenges are compounded for many families, and we have kids whose ability to learn is being impacted by not being able to access health care.”
The school setting includes over 70 different cultures with large Indigenous, refugee and Polynesian backgrounds.
Mr Hornby said students could use the service as they saw fit, for mental health issues, vaccinations and more, with appointments booking out each week.
“When we did research we found that for students it was mental health, but we also had a trip for our children to Samoa, so she did all the travel vaccinations — we have found benefits across the board,” Mr Hornby said.
Sixteen men from an Islamic religious school in Bangladesh, have been sentenced to death for setting a young woman on fire after she accused the principal of the school of sexual assault.
The principal was among those facing death.The killers poured kerosene over Nusrat Jahan, 18, and set her on fire on the roof of the school in April in the southeastern district of Feni, sparking outrage around the country and the world.
Police said in their charge-sheet the murder was carried out on the orders of the principal.
“The judgement proves that no one is above the law,” public prosecutor Hafez Ahmed told reporters after the court verdict on Thursday.
He said the defence lawyers had tried unsuccessfully to establish that Jahan had committed suicide.
Defence lawyer Giasuddin Nannu said his clients will challenge the verdict in the High Court.
Jahan had faced pressure to withdraw a complaint to police in March accusing the school principal of attempted rape, her family said.
All the accused were present when the verdict was pronounced in the crowded courtroom amid tight security.
Some of the accused were seen shouting at the prosecution lawyers while the others broke down in tears hearing the verdict.
The trial began in June and the court cross-examined 87 witnesses.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had met her family and vowed to bring the killers to justice.
“I can’t forget her for a moment. I still feel the pain that she went through,” mother Shirin Akhtar said as she burst into tears at her home following the verdict.
Jahan’s brother, Mahmudul Hasan Noman, demanded that the death sentences be carried out swiftly and sought protection for his family against reprisals.
“We live in fear. We were threatened even today in the courtroom,” Noman said.
Bangladesh has seen a dramatic rise in the number of rape cases in recent months, with 217 women and children raped in September, the highest in any single month since 2010, according to a report published by Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, a women’s right group.
Many more cases go unreported because women fear being stigmatised.
Rights activists attribute the increasing number of rapes to a lack of awareness, a culture of impunity, moral decadence, and people of influence protecting suspected rapists for political reasons.
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