The wife of a commune Party unit chief in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, arrested last Wednesday for allegedly slashing and severely injuring two creditors, is now a murder suspect in another case.
Provincial police are investigating 38-year-old Le Thi Huong in the disappearance of Duong Thi Thuy Binh Ha, 51, chairperson of the Red Cross association and cashier of the Kim Long Commune People’s Committee.
Ha has not been heard from since May 14, 2012.
Following Huong’s arrest, rumors swirled that Ha had been murdered and her body dumped in a well near the former’s house. Huong’s husband is the Secretary of the Kim Long Commune Party unit.
On Monday (January 21) morning, police pumped water out of the well but failed to find Ha’s body, the Nguoi Lao Dong newspaper reported the same day.
A day after she disappeared, Ha’s son, 35-year-old Nguyen Hai Son said in a complaint to police in Chau Duc District (where Kim Long Commune is located) that his mother had gone to work in the morning and not returned, and that her phone had been turned off. All her identity papers, motorbike, helmet were left at home except for the bike’s keys.
He was quoted by Nguoi Lao Dong as saying his mother had loaned Huong over VND200 million (US$9,603).
Son also told the paper that he had called his mother’s number a month after she went missing, and a xe om (motorbike taxi) driver had answered the phone. The driver told Son that he had bought the SIM card from a phone shop in the adjacent province of Dong Nai.
When district police questioned the shopkeeper, they were told that Huong had sold the phone containing the SIM card to the shop for VND900,000. The card in the phone was given to the driver since there was still money left in the account, while the phone was sold to an unknown customer, the shopkeeper said.
For her part, Huong told the police that she had found the phone in front of her house and sold it to the shop.
Son said that his mother had last March filed complaints about some issues related to the communal People’s Committee. The day she went missing, she had received a call from the district’s inspectorate inviting her to clarify her complaints.
She told them she would be in her office 30 minutes later, but never turned up, he said.
On Wednesday, January 23, 2013, Thanh Nien reporters found relatives of Ha digging up an earthen mound next to the well where police searched for Ha’s body two days earlier. The digging, which lasted for more than an hour, unearthed no evidence.
Huong was accused of using a kitchen knife to attack Phan Ngoc Nga, 52, and her husband Nguyen Chi Hung, 53, who she had invited to her house on January 15 ostensibly for returning VND80 million that she had borrowed from Nga early last year.
Hung was hospitalized with three slashes on his head, cracks on his skull, a broken left elbow, tendon rupture and other injuries on his hands, while Nga had many slashes on her head. Hung has undergone surgery to reattach his tendons, and the couple are still in the hospital. Doctors said they are recovering.
By Nguyen Long, Thanh Nien News (The story can be found in the January 25th issue of our print edition, Vietweek)