Five appear in court over cockle pickers case
The trial of five people accused in connection with the deaths of 21 Chinese cockle pickers who drowned last year in Britain's Morecambe Bay started yesterday.
Three Chinese, a British man and his son were charged in direct connection with the disaster, in which another two pickers are still missing and presumed dead.
Preston Crown Court selected a jury yesterday and will make the opening statements today.
The three Chinese are all from Liverpool. One of them is charged with 21 counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to commit facilitation an offence relating to the organization of illegal immigrants and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. Zhao Xiaoqing, 20, and Lin Muyong, 30, are also charged with facilitation.
David Eden, 62, and his son David Anthony Eden, 34, who run a fishing company and collect cockles from pickers, are charged with breaching immigration and labour laws.
The UK police began to take legal proceedings against the five suspects in July last year, and held the testimony in December.
To confirm the identities of the dead, mostly from East China's Fujian Province, police officers travelled to China to take DNA samples from relatives.
There are reports saying that at least 3,000 so-called gang masters operate in fields such as shellfish collection, agriculture, food processing and packaging in Britain.
(China Daily 09/13/2005 page2)