A man arrested after a 9-hour standoff in Ho Chi Minh City Friday faces charge of extortion, not abduction because a woman originally thought to be his hostage stayed with him voluntarily, police said.
Le Van Tuan, 31, and his girlfriend Pham Thi Chi, 37, are in the custody of District 12 police, suspected of staging a kidnapping to extort ransom from Chi’s husband, identified only as T., according Senior Lieutenant Nguyen Quoc Hai, the deputy district police chief.
Tuan, an methamphetamine addict, locked himself and Chi in his house around 6 a.m. after Chi refused to give him money to buy drug. He armed himself with a makeshift “spear” made by tying a knife to a fluorescent tube lamp, and another broken tube lamp, and threatened to detonate a 12-kg cooking gas cylinder.
Tuan’s mother, Nguyen Thi Lan, said Tuan and Chi, who is married and has three children with T., were having an affair since early this year. Tuan himself has two children and somehow T. had accepted to raise up all the five children.
During the standoff, Tuan demanded that Chi’s husband appologize for having called him a “junkie,” and “loan” him VND20 million.
When T. said he could only afford VND10 million because he had to care for five kids, Tuan said VND10 million “is just enough to buy two coffins,” and threatened to set fire on the gas cylinder.
According to Sen. Lt. Hai, Chi conformed with Tuan and voluntarily stayed with him to pressure T.
When T. brought the money, Tuan asked him to fetch Chi’s clothes and call a taxi for them. When the cab arrived around noon, however, he did not take it fearing there were police inside.
Police raided Tuan’s house at 2.45 p.m. and used tear gas to subdue him after they failed to persuade him to give up.
Tuan’s mother Nguyen Thi Lan said he became an addict three years ago.
“Because his second wife died of AIDS, he thought he had AIDS too, so he turned to drug. When he found out he didn’t have HIV, it was already too late,” Lan said in tears.
His father Le Van Dat said Tuan was also a heavy gambler.
Dat and Lan were at Tuan’s house when he quarreled with Chi early this morning. Tuan pushed his parents out of the house before locking it up, Dat said.
According to Vietnam’s Penal Code, the crime of extortion carries a sentence of between one and five years in prison.