Monday, Dec 22, 2014

Afghan Sikh stowaways: Two truck drivers charged in UK

By: Press Trust of India | London | Posted: August 23, 2014 6:12 pm

Two truck drivers have been charged with human smuggling after 35 Afghan Sikh stowaways, one of them dead, were found in a shipping container at a dockyard in Britain.

Stephen McLaughlin, 34, and 33-year-old Timothy Murphy, both lorry drivers from Northern Ireland, are charged with conspiring to facilitate illegal entry into the UK.

They are currently in police custody and will appear at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

The Sikh stowaways, aged between one and 72, were found at Tilbury docks in Essex a week ago after the port workers heard banging and screaming coming from a container.

The post-mortem examination of the dead man, identified as 40-year-old Meet Singh Kapoor, had failed to establish the cause of his death and inquiries are continuing.

The 34 surviving stowaways, including 10 men, nine women and 15 children, one as young as one, are all in the care of the Home Office after being questioned by police and are seeking asylum in the UK.

The Sikhs, who had been inside the container for 18 hours, were believed to have fled Afghanistan after suffering persecution and police have said they appear to be victims of human trafficking.

The ship had docked after an overnight trip across the North Sea and several of those in the container were suffering from dehydration and hypothermia.

Families had to perch on top of large receptacles of chemicals surrounded by what little luggage they could carry, with too little room to stand.

They had barely enough room to move and nowhere to relieve themselves.

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