Dutchman may hold key to lorry death horror

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The Independent Online

Dutch police were today hunting a young electrical engineer who could hold the key to cracking a Far Eastern smuggling racket that ended in 58 deaths.

Dutch police were today hunting a young electrical engineer who could hold the key to cracking a Far Eastern smuggling racket that ended in 58 deaths.

Horrified Customs officers discovered two survivors among the bodies of 54 men and four women in an airtight truck container at Dover after one of the hottest days of the year.

The pair were under police guard today amid fears that the criminal "Snakehead" gang thought to have smuggled the group out of China could seek to silence them.

The men have already given a partial account of their ordeal in the pitch-black, airless refrigerated unit, which was not switched on.

But they have so far been too traumatised to give officers a detailed account.

The Dutch driver of the truck, which arrived in Britain from Zeebrugge, Belgium was arrested after a single Customs officer made the grim find, shortly before midnight on Sunday.

And police in Holland are anxious to trace Arjen Van der Spek, 24, who registered the firm which owned the truck only last Thursday, said Dutch Public Prosecutor's Office spokesman Wim de Bruin.

The company, Van der Spek Transporten, was registered to his parents' suburban home on the outskirts of Rotterdam but the 24-year-old has not been seen since the bodies were found.

"We are looking for him at the moment," Mr de Bruin said.

Police have said the young man could have become innocently involved in the multi-million pound trafficking racket.

However, whether he knew what was happening or not, there are bound to be concerns for his safety given the ruthless nature of the smuggling gangs who charge up to £15,000 a head to get people out of China.

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