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Questions ask whether the death of 58 Chinese immigrants was a "controlled delivery"?
01 June 2001
The British trial is over, the Dutch trial has just started and already it is clear that the "Dover-case" is not only about the death of 58 migrants in a truck of a human trafficker. Journalists and defence lawyers have started to ask questions such as: why did the Dutch police declare that P & O Stenaline informed them about suspicions regarding the lorry which, the company asserts, it did not. And why did the British police claim that the inspection of the truck was a routine check, if it only took place shortly before the truck was about to leave the customs area. It remains to be seen during the course of the Dutch trial how much more evidence will be presented to suggest an involvement of Dutch and British police forces, possibly with the support of Europol.
On 18 June 2000, 58 migrants from China died in a container on a journey on a P&O ferry from Zeebrugge to Dover (see Statewatch vol 10, no's 3/4 and no 6). As it later emerged, the migrant group had earlier been held in Belgium, and were told by the police to leave the Schengen area. Asked whether the Belgian authorities would have accepted the migrants entering the UK, the latter simply replied, "that counts as leaving the Schengen space" - although the UK has joined Schengen, it opted out of measures on immigration and border controls. On 22 June, Perry W., the Dutch truck driver, was charged with 58 counts of manslaughter and five of conspiracy to smuggle illegal immigrants into Britain. Ying G., a Mandarin interpreter, was charged with conspiring to facilitate the entry of illegal immigrants. The court case took place at the Maidstone crown court in the UK between 26 February and 4 April, when the jury found the truck driver and the interpreter guilty. Perry W.was sentenced by Judge Alan Moses to 14 years imprisonment and Ying G. to six years.
Parallel to the UK trial, 8 people have been charged with trafficking related offences in the Netherlands. But there, the prosecutions are surrounded by more controversy. On 14 December, the Dutch court in Rotterdam granted a request by the prosecutors for the investigation period to be extended by three months. On 5 March, the court case was postponed again because the defence lawyers received the relevant files only one and a half weeks before the initial starting date and wanted to investigate the possibility that the police had knowledge of the smuggling and were conducting a "controlled delivery". Nine people are on trial in the Dutch courts, eight of whom are charged with accessory to manslaughter, human trafficking and membership of a criminal organisation, the other for forgery. The court case began in Rotterdam on 19 of April 2001, with defence lawyers, Doedens and Boone, suggesting that the trafficking operation had been part of a controlled delivery. Back in November 2000, questions about this possibility were raised in the Dutch parliament. This came after journalists, on the basis of police surveillance reports, had reported that the police stopped their observation of the suspected traffickers on 16 June 2000, two days before the fatal journey .
The British case
The British court case appeared clear-cut and was widely covered in both the British and the Dutch press. In some Dutch newspapers however, Judge Alan Moses was said to have been biased in trying to influence the jury on several occasions. He openly indicated that he believed Perry W.'s statement to be unreliable, de Volkskrant commented on 3 April 2001: "during the summary of testimonies on Monday 2 April, Judge Moses made clear to the jury, after summarising the testimony of Perry W. that the jury should not hesitate to dismiss it as not credible. And on the penalties, he gave a statement to the effect that greedy human traffickers were feeding prejudices about asylum seekers, thereby generating calls for a tougher immigration policy". Perry W.'s lawyers, O. Kirk and M. Lawson, further complained about the fact that they rec