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Thursday, March 23, 2017
Refugees who died at Dover were fleeing religious persecution
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¬†Several of the 58 Chinese refugees found dead in the back of a lorry at Dover last June, were fleeing religious persecution, it was claimed in court yesterday. One of only two survivors found in the back of truck, Ke Shi Guang, 22, told Maidstone Crown Court that he had left Fujian province because he trying to escape being persecuted for his Catholic faith. Customs and Excise officers found 54 men and four women suffocated in the airtight lorry container of tomatoes on 18 June last year at Dover's eastern docks. Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Guang said the Snakehead gang had masterminded the trip. He said he knew he would be kept in a safe house in London until his family paid a £20,000 fee for smuggling him into the UK, but he had no idea he was going to be crammed into an airtight container. Before their journey ended tragically at Dover, the group had flown from Beijing to Yugoslavia, travelled to Hungary by car, then Austria and France in a van, and Holland by train. Elizabeth Marsh QC, defending Mr Guang, asked why he had chosen to pay a criminal gang to get him to the country instead of buying a plane ticket in Beijing for less money and claiming asylum on arrival. Mr Guang said he did not understand the procedure and felt he needed someone to escort him. Dutch lorry driver Perry Wacker, 32, is accused of manslaughter and attempting to smuggle people into the UK from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. He denies the charges. Chinese interpreter Ying Guo, 29, of South Woodford, Essex, denies conspiracy to smuggle immigrants into Britain. The trial continues.
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