LONDON - Two truck drivers have been charged after 35 Afghan Sikhs were found in a shipping container at a British port, one of them dead, police said Saturday.
Stephen McLaughlin, 34, and Timothy Murphy, 33, both from Northern Ireland, face charges of conspiring to facilitate illegal entry into Britain. The survivors, aged between just one and 72, were found in the container on August 16 at Tilbury Docks east of London suffering severe dehydration and hypothermia.
They were only found after staff heard banging and screaming coming from the container, which had arrived at the docks from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. The dead man was identified as 40-year-old Meet Singh Kapoor, whose children aged nine and 12 were in the container with him.
The Sikhs had been inside the container for 18 hours and said they were fleeing religious persecution in Kabul, according to Kamaljit Singh Mataharu, a Punjabi-speaking local man who was called in by the police to translate. Tilbury Docks is the main port serving the British capital. McLaughlin and Murphy appeared in court on Saturday and were remanded in custody ahead of another hearing in November.