A court in the southern province of Binh Duong Thursday sentenced to death a policeman-turned-gambler for robbing and killing three women between 2008 and 2009.
Tran Nguyen Xuan Phuong, 32, was also convicted of fraud and theft.
His accomplices in two of the murders, 26-year-old Nguyen The Lam and 19-year-old Phung Minh Cuong, received jail terms of 22 years and 18 years respectively.
The court said it was awarding lenient sentences for the two because Lam was pushed to the crime by Phuong and Cuong committed the crime when he was underaged.
Phuong worked as a former officer of Binh Duong's police division after graduating from the police college in 1998, but lost the job and spent 15 months in jail for stealing a motorbike from his fellow officer to cover his gambling debts.
After being released from jail, he got married and worked as taxi driver, but he was still addicted to gambling.
On October 22, 2008, Phuong and Lam, who was his co-worker at VinaSun Taxi Company, hatched a scheme to rob the house of Phuong's former boss Pham Ngoc Thuan, deputy general director of Becamex IDC Corp.
They killed Pham Thi Canh Lam, Thuan's mother-in-law, with an iron crowbar before robbing the house.
On April 13, 2009, the gambling addict and his friend Le Thanh Long, who died later of AIDS, robbed and killed Phuong's mother-in-law, Nguyen Thi Mai. They then hid her body in a deep hole in a deserted lot far from her house.
According to the indictment, on December 9, 2009, together with his brother-in-law Cuong, he killed 37-year-old Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, who had loaned him VND10 million ($486).
Thuy's corpse which was hidden in a forest in Ben Cat District, was discovered soon later, leading police's suspicions towards Phuong.
The man admitted to all three murders following a lengthy interrogation, and his accomplices were arrested later.