A Ho Chi Minh City court on Tuesday sentenced a dog thief to death for killing three men who were trying to catch him in the outskirt district of Cu Chi in June.
Ho Van Hieu, 20, was convicted of murder and robbery, according to the verdict delivered by the HCMC People’s Court in open trial at a football field in the district.
The court also handed down jail terms against his three accomplices, including Le Minh Hau, 19, to 12 years in jail, Pham Ngoc Thuan, 27, and Ho Thanh An to ten years each, all for robbery charges.
Among the defendants, Le Minh Hau was serving a 18 months probation for the conviction of deliberately injuring other.
According to the indictment, Hieu was the leader of the gang that stole dogs in Hoc Mon and Cu Chi Districts.
On June 14, the gang stole three dogs in Cu Chi and were returning to Hoc Mon on motorbikes.
However, three men in Cu Chi’s Tan Thanh Dong Commune, namely Huynh Kim Bao, Nguyen Minh Phuong and Pham Nguyen Quoc Huu, saw the thieves and chased them on Bao's motorbike.
When the chasers caught up with the thieves at a section of Nguyen Kim Cuong St., Cu Chi Dist., they attempted to attack with a machete.
Hieu shot at Bao with his stun gun, which fired an electrical arrow. He missed Bao, but the arrow hit Phuong, who sat in the middle.
Both Phuong and Huu were electrocuted, fell to the street and died later of severe injuries. Bao lost control of his bike, hit the wall of a house by the street and died on the spot.
The thieves fled, but turned themselves in to the police the following days.
They told the court they sold the three dogs to a trader in Go Vap District for VND960,000 (US$45).
They also confessed to stealing 10 other dogs in three previous cases and sold to traders for VND4 million since June 11.
Huynh Van Thanh, Bao’s father, said his son was eager to catch the thieves because two of the family’s dogs had been stolen two days before.
Thanh said many dogs have recently been stolen from families in his commune, stirring up public anger.
Dogs are often stolen in Vietnam for food and restaurants pay around VND200,000 ($9.6) per dog.
The crimes persist even though thieves have been caught and beaten to death in communal mob violence.
As the stolen dogs are often valued less than VND2 million (the threshold for criminal charges) thieves only suffer a fine, which has led some victims to vent their rage on the thieves instead of handing them over to police.