Family says Vietnamese customs officer intentionally killed by colleague

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The family of a customs officer in the southern Vietnamese province of Tay Ninh who was shot dead by a colleague while inspecting weapons has objected to a police conclusion that the killing was unintentional.


The family told Thanh Nien Sunday that they had asked local police to continue investigating the death of Nguyen Nhat Huynh, 35, an official of the provincial Customs Department.


On January 15, Huynh and other coworkers were tasked with inspecting weapons used by customs officers.


Tran Thanh Hoang Vu, 31, was inspecting three pistols. He removed the chamber out of the first pistol, investigators said.


But he did not remove the chamber out of the second pistol. He pointed the pistol into the floor and pulled the trigger, they said.


The shot broke some tiles on the floor. Vu was frightened and told his coworkers not to tell their superior of his action, according to the indictment.


However, when Vu was checking a third pistol, he did not remove the chamber once again.


Investigators said he pointed the pistol north, where Huynh was standing and talking on his cellphone, and pulled the trigger.


Huynh was hit by the bullet and rushed to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards.


Local police concluded that Vu unintentionally killed Huynh because of mere carelessness. Prosecutors charged him with "involuntary manslaughter" and a trial is scheduled for June 7.


Huynh's family said they did not agree with the conclusion, and they said the provincial prosecutors' indictment contained many details proving that Vu's actions were intentional.


They said the customs officers were tasked with inspecting the weapons' general condition and counting them, not examining the pistols in the way that Vu did.


They said they had repeatedly sent complaints to local police and the local prosecutor's office but received no replies.


Huynh Thi Hau, Huynh's wife, told Thanh Nien that Vu had asked Huynh to discuss something but Huynh had declined some days before the shooting.


Investigators, meanwhile, concluded that there was no conflict between Vu and Huynh.


Vu was dismissed after the incident.

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