Family wants new investigation into reporter's murder

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The family of a reporter journalist who was allegedly killed by his wife in southern Vietnam have proposed that local prosecutors order a new investigation into the case, the family's advocate said Friday.

Lawyer Nguyen Van Duc, representative of Le Hoang Hung's family, told the press about the request one week after police of Long An Province concluded their investigation into the case.

Hung, who worked as a reporter of Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper, was set on fire while he was in bed at midnight January 19. He died 10 days later due to severe burnts.

The police investigation concluded that Hung's wife, Tran Thuy Lieu, had set him on fire because he was jealous and often beat her. She acted alone, the police said.

According to lawyer Duc, however, investigators didn't clarify conflicts between recorded evidence and what Lieu told them in a confession.

He quoted Tran Van Men, Lieu's father, as saying that Hung never beat his wife, while their two daughters said Hung was very kind and never shouted at or argued with Lieu.

Duc said that according to police records, Lieu admitted that Hung had been aware of her affair with Nguyen Van Tam, chief of Market Management Team No.5 at the provincial Market Management Agency, and had known that she was pregnant with Tam, but he kept silent.

Duc claims it is groundless to say that Hung beat his wife because of jealousy, stressing that police need to re-consider Lieu's motivation behind the crime.

The lawyer also raised questions about evidence collected at the crime scene.

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Lieu told police that she bought a 12-meter rope and gasoline from a local shop for her plot, but the rope found at the room's balcony was only 10.5 meters, Duc said. Lieu claimed to use the rope to stage the scene as if someone broke into the house to set her husband on fire.

He also noted that the shop's owner said she sold a 10.7-meter rope to a man of 35-40 years old on January 17.

According to Duc, there were also unclear points in Lieu's statements about the way she killed her husband.

She said it took her less than one-and-a-half minutes to throw an open plastic bag of gasoline at her husband's mosquito-net and set him on fire before returning to her room.

She also said just when he started getting burned, Hung woke up and ran after her to ask for help.

"Within such a short time, is it possible for the victim to have his body burned up to 49 percent?" Duc said.

The lawyer claims that with just 1.2 liters of gasoline that Lieu bought, it would be impossible to burn all of Hung's blanket, mosquito-net and make the room's walls blackened with smoke.

Duc urged police to also consider many other factors in addition to Lieu's statements.

In fact, police found Tam giving Lieu advice on how to mislead investigators, and the woman didn't turn herself in until February 20.

On June 11, officials fired Tam from his job and he is also facing dismissal from the Communist Party for the affair and gambling in Cambodia.

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