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This is a criminal matter. So, There is really no time frame with respect to the keeping of the van. Practically speaking, It could be kept until the investigation has been completed. You most certainly not get it back today if your friend ends up being charged.
It is completely possible for someone to sneak into the back of the van without him knowing and without him being a part of anything to smuggle migrants. However, the fact that he was caught with migrants in the back, is enough for the police to investigate. I recommend that he or you get a solicitor to assist him at this point. The solicitor may be able to assist with the question and answer interview and if he is being charged applying for bail and ultimate defending his case.
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Great I am happy for that news!