8 year jail term upheld for Vietnam gangster

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An appeals court in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday upheld an eight year jail term for one man and reduced two other men's terms to four and a half years each, for almost cutting a man's hand off.

The indictment said that Bui Duc Thang, who owned a bookstore in the nearby Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, in January 2008 had hired four members of a local gang - Nguyen Van Doi, Tran Van Hung, Nguyen Tuan Thanh, and Vu Thien Minh - to settle a conflict with Nguyen Tien Hai who ran a mobile phone shop nextdoor.

Thang suspected that Hai had his employees urinate and defecate in front of his bookstore to avenge a previous conflict in which Thang had called the police to intervene after Hai's employees got drunk and damaged Thang's signboard.

Thang said at the court that he only resorted to violence after local authorities refused to handle his complaint about the peeing and defecating, saying there was no evidence.

Hai almost lost his left hand when he was attacked with a machete by the gangsters, who were paid VND1 million (US$48).

The appeal court reduced Thang's punishment from six to four and a half years, but kept Doi's eight year jail term.

Thang's relative Tran Anh Phuoc, who introduced him to the gangsters, also had his punishment reduced from six years to four and a half years.

Hung, Thanh and Minh, the three other gangsters, were sentenced to seven years in jail at previous hearings, and they did not file an appeal.

Hung was arrested immediately after the attack while others were arrested in July last year.

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