The involvement of human traffickers in the case involving 35 Afghan Sikh stowaways, found inside an airtight shipping container on a dockyard in British port, has been confirmed with the arrest of a third person, a media report said on Sunday.
Police arrested a third man in connection with the death, a special investigation by the ‘Sunday Telegraph’ has confirmed the hand of human traffickers behind the death of one of the Afghan Sikh men and how 34 others, including women and children ended up close to suffocation in the container.
Meet Singh Kapoor, 40, was one of 35 people from Afghanistan, discovered at Tilbury Docks in Essex on August 16.
A 47-year-old man from Dungannon in Northern Ireland has been arrested at Liverpool Ferry Port and will be transferred into the custody of Essex Police.
Two other men also charged in connection with the death remain in custody to appear at Basildon Crown Court in November, the police said.
A 34-year-old from Rose Park, Limavady, Londonderry and another aged 33, of Elmgrove, Londonderry are both charged with conspiring to facilitate illegal entry into the UK.
Kapoor, in a bid to escape a heavy debt, tried to leave his hometown of Jalalabad in Afghanistan with his wife and two children.
According to the newspaper investigation, Kapoor and his family may have paid as much as 1,200 pounds to human traffickers to smuggle them across the border into Iran, then through Turkey into Bulgaria or northern Greece.
From there the journey, by lorry, would have taken them through Serbia, Hungary, Austria and Germany.
In June, Kapoor rang his uncle in Jalalabad to tell him they had made it as far as Belgium and were trying to secure a passage to the UK.
“Everyone gets the help of human traffickers; no one can get a visa for the UK, so Meet Singh was also using those ways,” his uncle was quoted as saying by the paper.
The final leg of their journey involved them being sealed inside the cargo container with 18 other adults and 13 children aged one to 12 some time before it was loaded on a lorry onto a P&O roll-on, roll-off ferry at Zeebrugge in Belgium.
Dock workers broke into the container after hearing screams and cries from inside. The migrants, including Kapoor’s wife and children, were cared for initially by members of the Sikh community in Essex and are now in the care of the Home Office while their application for asylum status is being considered.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “This tragic incident is a reminder of the devastating human consequences of illegal migration and we will do all we can to help bring those responsible to justice.”