Leader of machete gang gets death in Vietnam

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Ho Duy Truc, 20, listens as he receives the death penalty for robbery at the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court on December 25 / PHOTO: LE NGA

A court in Ho Chi Minh City Wednesday sentenced a 20-year-old man to death for leading a gang that attacked at least 13 people with machetes during a 6-month robbery spree that was busted in November.

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court also gave jail terms, including one life sentence, to seven of Ho Duy Truc's accomplices.

According to the indictment, between June and November the gang conducted 17 motorbike robberies during which 13 people were  injured by machete attacks. The stolen motorbikes were estimated to be worth a total of VND600 million (US$28,200).

Truc and his co-defendants were arrested after an attack on Nguyen Thi Thuy, 29, in an attempt to steal her motorbike on November 24.

That day, Truc and Tran Van Luong, 25, Nguyen Hoang Phuong, 20, and Huynh Thanh Son, 31, rode on two motorbikes and approached Thuy while she drove over the Phu My Bridge in District 2, according to investigators.

Truc, who was riding on the back of Luong's bike, slashed at Thuy's right wrist twice with a 50-centimeter-long machete.

She jumped off her bike, holding her hand that was hanging by the skin, and cried for help.

Phuong and Son then snatched her handbag while the others struggled to start her motorbike.

Passers-by rushed to the scene after hearing Thuy's cries and the would-be thieves fled without her bike.

Police arrested the four the same night soon after they had  checked into a hotel in Binh Chanh District. They later apprehended other members of the gang.

According to the board of judges, the defendants' acts terrified the public, and Truc, the gang's leader, was "dangerous" and "inhumane."

The young man thus got death for robbery even though prosecutors had only sought a life sentence.

Luon was jailed for life while Phuong and Son were sentenced to 20 and 18 years, respectively, for the same charge.

Tran Thanh Tuyen, 22, received a jail term of 12 years, also for robbery.

Three others were sentenced to as long as 12 years in prison for buying stolen motorbikes and then reselling them.

Capital punishment in Vietnam is by lethal injection.

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