Charged with the manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese nationals who were found dead in a truck near London last month, Maurice Robinson, a Northern Irish man, plead guilty to assisting unlawful immigration and to acquiring criminal property on Monday.
Appearing by video link from Belmarsh Prison in east London, Robinson, 25, was not asked to enter a plea to 41 other charges, including 39 counts of manslaughter. No trial date was set and Robinson is next due in court on December 13.
The victims, 31 men and boys, and eight women were found on an industrial estate in Grays, Essex, not far from docks on the River Thames, on October 23. The oldest of the victims was 44 while three were aged under 18.
Another 23-year-old man from Northern Ireland was separately charged on Sunday with charges of conspiracy to arrange or facilitate the travel of people with a view to exploitation and conspiracy to facilitate the commission of a breach of UK immigration law. He is due to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court in England on Monday.
The 39 victims are reported to be mostly from provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh. The incident, which is the second-largest mass killing in the country since 2000, brought to light the illegal human trafficking from Asia, Africa and Middle-east to the West.
In 2000, 58 Chinese people were found in a container in Dover, Kent. Perry Wacker, the driver of the truck, was found guilty of the killings and people smuggling operation. The operation was revealed to have been planned by the Chinese snakehead gang.