Court upholds life sentence for wife of slain journalist

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The Supreme People's Court on Friday upheld the life sentence handed down to Tran Thuy Lieu, 41, for killing her husband in a high-profile murder case last year.

She was sentenced to life by Long An Province People's Court on March 29 for burning her husband, Le Hoang Hung, to death.  Hung had been a journalist with the Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper.

Lieu appealed the verdict, calling it "too harsh," claiming she only wanted to "warn" her husband, adding that her children are still young.

On Friday, the Supreme People's Court rejected Lieu's appeal.

On January 19, 2011, Lieu set Hung on fire as he slept at their house in Tan An Town, Long An Province. She rushed him to the hospital soon after, but he died 10 days later from severe burns, according to prosecutors.

The Long An People's Court said Lieu killed Hung for "vile motives," after frequent quarrels over her gambling debts.

Lieu insisted she did not intentionally kill Hung. She told the court her husband beat her in fits of jealousy because of her affair with former provincial official Nguyen Van Tam. She also told the court that she had acted alone.

At the March 29 trial, Tam admitted to the court that he did in fact have an extramarital affair with Lieu.

Hung's family and his employers have repeatedly asserted that Lieu could not have acted alone and asked that the police look into the role Tam may have played. According to Hung's family, their advocate and his employers, Tam had advised Lieu on how to mislead investigators.

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The police need to clarify the purpose of phone calls and text messages between Lieu and Tam, former chief of the provincial Market Management Team No. 5, before, during and after the murder, they added.

However, police have not filed any charges against the former official, who was dismissed last August for gambling in Cambodia and for his affair with Lieu.

At first, prosecutors refused to ratify the charges levied only against Lieu and asked for further investigations. But after completing a fresh probe, police reiterated their original conclusion that Lieu had acted alone.

In the appeal trial, the Supreme People's Court reiterated that Lieu did not have an accomplice.

 

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