Binh Duong shooting instigator arrested

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A company director suspected to have hired assailants to shoot dead a debtor in the southern province of Binh Duong last week surrendered to the police on Monday.

Pham Tuan Thanh, 32, director of the Hai Nam Phat Limited Company that processes cashew nuts, had fled his residence-cum-office when they searched his place last Saturday. A warrant had been issued for his arrest.

Thanh reportedly told the police that he and a group of men had gone to the house of Phan Van Lan, 40-year-old director of a private company in Binh Duong, last Friday to ask him to repay a VND500 million (US$24,300) debt, but were chased away by company employees. Lan was not home at that time.

"The employees beat us up and challenged us," he said.

Thanh and seven other men returned to Lan's house later. Lan who had returned home then, used a scimitar to stab him, Thanh claimed. One of the men shot Lan at that point, but Thanh said he did not know who it was.

A Thanh Nien source said the police had arrested 10 people involved in the shooting. The identities of the detained suspects have not been revealed.

According to Thanh, Lan owed him VND500 million that he had given as a deposit for land, and had promised payment on May 10. Thanh and his men had come to Lan's house to remind him of the debt "just in case he forgets it," Thanh told the police.

Phan Cong Anh, Thanh's lawyer, said his client did not flee his house after the shooting, but had only tried to contact the lawyer.

"He came to my office in Ho Chi Minh City to discuss the matter," Anh said.

Previously, witnesses had said Thanh and his men went into Lan's office cum home and smashed his computers. When Lan returned home and asked the men why they had damaged his property, one man shot him with a gun.

The group then fled the scene, leaving behind a four-seater believed to belong to Thanh's father-in-law Hieu, who was on Sunday summoned by the police for questioning.

Investigations into the case are ongoing, police said.

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