Truck driver Maurice ‘Mo’ Robinson appeared in court via video link on Monday, charged with the manslaughter of 39 people found dead in a trailer outside London last week.
Robinson, 25, of Craigavon, Northern Ireland, was remanded in custody by magistrates in Chelmsford, Essex and will next appear at London’s Old Bailey court on November 25.
He was not required to enter a plea and spoke only to confirm his name and address.
Robinson was arrested shortly after the bodies were found in an industrial park in Grays, Essex on October 23.
On Saturday he was charged with 39 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to traffic people, conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration and money laundering.
Robinson was seated quietly in a light-colored t-shirt on Monday as district court judge Timothy King said he was concerned the defendant might try to interfere with the investigation if released.
Robinson’s solicitor, Julian Hayes, made no application for bail, the UK’s PA news agency reported.
Crown prosecutor Oghenerouna Iguyovwe told the court that Robinson was part of a global ring to facilitate illegal immigration into the UK.
Victims not yet named
On Saturday, police said they would not speculate on the nationalities of those who had died in the truck, but were aware of reports of missing individuals in the Vietnamese community.
“We cannot realistically speculate at this time about the nationalities of all of our deceased within that vehicle,” Detective Chief Inspector Martin Pasmore of Essex Police said.
UK authorities are working with their Vietnamese counterparts to identify the victims, but have not yet officially named any of them or confirmed their nationalities.
All of the victims’ bodies have been transported from the trailer to Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford for post-mortem examinations, according to Essex Police.
Pasmore said he had agreed with the Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK to a method of sharing fingerprints in the hope that it would help with the identification of the victims.
Essex Police have appealed for anyone who may have information about the 39 deceased to come forward.
Three other people arrested in connection with the investigation have been released on bail, Essex police said on Sunday.