Family wants trial delayed in reporter's murder

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The family of a journalist who was allegedly killed by his wife in the southern province of Long An has asked a local court to delay the wife's trial and order additional investigations, Tuoi Tre quoted the family's advocate as saying Thursday.

Le Hoang Hung's family made the request after the provincial prosecutors on November 5 charged 40-year-old Tran Thuy Lieu with murder and scheduled a trial for December.

According to the indictment, Lieu set her husband, who worked as a reporter of Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper, on fire while he slept in his bed at midnight on January 19. Hung died ten days later due to severe burns.

However, in the latest letter sent to Long An Province's People's Court, lawyer Nguyen Van Duc, representative of Hung's family, said at least seven details in the case have not been clarified.

Duc said the case's records didn't mention the phone calls between Lieu and Nguyen Van Tam, former chief of the provincial Market Management Team No. 5, which were made before and after the murder.

It was alleged that Tam was having an affair with Lieu and acted as her accomplice in the murder. He was dismissed from his post on August 8 for gambling in Cambodia and his connection with Lieu, but was not charged with anything.

Duc also said there were inconsistencies between Lieu's confession and recorded evidence as well as witnesses' statements. For example, the rope used to stage the scene to make it look as if someone else broke into their house was different from the one that the owner of a shop said she had sold to Lieu.

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The lawyer claimed that investigators' explanation of the murder scenario was unconvincing, saying that they reproduced the crime scene during daytime in good weather conditions, while the murder happened at night with weak lighting.

In the letter, Duc also proposed that Nguyen Thi Nhiem, Tam's younger sister, be charged with obstructing police investigation because she refused to admit that she helped Lieu and Tam exchange letters.

This is the second time Hung's family has asked local agencies to investigate his murder further.

In August, the family made the request to local prosecutors after police pressed charges against Lieu, and additional investigations were ordered into the case.

The high-profile murder case drew widespread attention earlier this year, and local media aired accusations against Lieu and exposed her gambling debts as well as the alleged affair with Tam.

Lieu, who denied all accusations at first, did not make her confession until a month after her husband's death. She turned herself in to the police on February 20, saying she had killed Hung because he beat her and accused her of having an affair.

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