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Irishman facing manslaughter charges over container deaths appears in court

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Ronan Hughes was arrested on Monday

Ronan Hughes was arrested on Monday

Ronan Hughes was arrested on Monday

An Irish man is facing manslaughter charges over the deaths of 39 Vietnamese migrants in a lorry container in England, a court has heard.

Ronan Hughes (40) was arrested on foot of a European Arrest Warrant and brought before the High Court, where the Irish authorities are seeking to have him surrendered for extradition to the UK.

The court heard he is wanted there for prosecution on 39 counts of manslaughter and one of conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration.

The allegations relate to the deaths of eight women and 31 men who were found dead in a container lorry in an industrial park in Essex last October.

Mr Justice Paul Burns set a date for the extradition hearing in May and remanded Mr Hughes in custody for a bail hearing next week.

Yesterday Detective Sergeant James Kirwan told the court he arrested Mr Hughes on foot of the warrant at 5.15pm on Monday at Leitrim, Silverstream, Tyholland, Co Monaghan.

It was part of a planned operation by the garda extradition unit and National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, he said.

Mr Hughes replied "yes" when asked if it was his photograph on the warrant.

Det Sgt Kirwan said he informed Mr Hughes of his rights and read him a summary outline of the alleged offences.

"I asked him did he want to say anything about this and he replied 'no'," Det Sgt Kirwan said, adding that Mr Hughes was then brought to Monaghan Garda Station.

Ronan Kennedy BL, for the State, said there would be an objection to bail.

Identification

Mr Hughes's barrister said he was not making an application for bail and identification was not an issue.

Judge Burns told Mr Hughes he had a right to consent to his surrender for extradition but "that is a matter for yourself".

He told Mr Hughes's lawyer to submit any points of objection before the extradition hearing on May 1.

He said he had to give four days' notice of intention to seek bail and set a provisional date of next Wednesday.

Having read the warrant, Judge Burns said he was satisfied with the contents but he had a number of technical queries to be clarified.

"I might seek formal clarification of the details of the alleged role of Mr Hughes in the alleged offences," he said.

Mr Hughes, wearing a navy blue golf shirt and blue jeans, had a white face mask which he removed for the hearing.

He sat silently during the proceedings, then gave a thumbs up to a woman who was sitting in the public gallery before putting the mask back on and being led away.