By Agnes Szucs

BRUSSELS (AA) – A Belgian court on Wednesday sentenced a human trafficking network’s ringleader to 15 years in prison for the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants found in a refrigerator truck.

The Court of Bruges convicted Vietnamese Vo Van Hong to 15 years in prison and fined him €920,000 (approximately $1,042,000) for his role in the migrant trafficking that resulted in the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people in 2019, Belgian daily Le Soir reported.

The victims, who were attempting to enter the UK illegally with the help of a human traffickers network, were found dead in a refrigerator truck in an industrial zone outside London, suffering from hypothermia and a lack of oxygen.

Hong was established as the ringleader, overseeing criminal activities from Belgium’s capital, Brussels, according to the inquiry.

Between 2018 and 2020, he facilitated the trafficking of at least 115 people to the UK.

The network had two hideouts in Brussels, where at least 15 of the victims had been sheltering before taking the truck from the Belgian port town of Zeebruges to the UK.

The court also convicted 22 other members of the criminal gang.

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