Le Ba Mai, 30, stands at a hearing in the southern province of Binh Phuoc on June 19, 2012
A man who was sentenced to death for raping and murdering a young girl eight years ago - only to be acquitted of the crimes last year - will be tried once again, the supreme court has said.
Le Ba Mai, 30, is in custody pending the re-trial requested by Binh Phuoc Province prosecutors, who maintain that he raped and killed 11-year-old Thi Ut on November 12, 2004.
On Tuesday, Binh Phuoc police took Mai into custody under a decision approved by the Supreme People's Court.
The decision, issued on May 15, said the detention was necessary to "secure an appeal trial and verdict execution," without stating how long his detention will last.
The new arrest came nearly one year after provincial prosecutors filed an appeal that again charged Mai with murdering and raping Ut and called for a new trial after Mai was acquitted last spring.
On May 24, 2011 the Binh Phuoc Province's People's Court declared that Mai was not guilty, saying that there was insufficient evidence to charge Mai with the crime.
It also found conflicts in the testimonies of the only eyewitness, Thi Hang and Mai's retructed confession.
Critical mistakes were also made in both legal and investigative procedures, court officials said at that time. Mai claimed his false confession was beaten out of him. He has maintained his innocence ever since.
The Binh Phuoc Province People's Court held the trial after the Supreme People's Court ordered a fresh investigation into the case in February 2007.
The Supreme People's Court, at that time, approved an appeal by the Supreme People's Procuracy annulling the death penalty that Mai received following his two initial trials in March and August 2005.
According to the original indictment, on November 12, 2004, Mai, who was working on a farm in Binh Phuoc's Binh Long District, saw Ut and Hang (then 9) picking cassava in a garden.
Mai allegedly persuaded Ut to accompany with him on his motorbike to a nearby jackfruit orchard, where he allegedly raped Ut.
The indictment said Mai then strangled Ut to death with her pants and buried her body under a jackfruit tree.
Four days later, local residents found the body. Hang told police the man who picked up Ut was Mai. He was arrested the following day.
At a hearing on Tuesday, Mai said his initial confession was false and that investigators beat and tortured it out of him.
He said the investigators promised him he would be given a lenient sentence if he confessed to the crimes.
The investigators wrote his confession and told him to learn it by heart, he said.
After the Binh Phuoc Province People's Court sentenced him to death in the first trial in March 2005, Mai lodged an appeal claiming he was innocent.
Hang, now 17, told the Supreme People's Court Tuesday that a man who "looked like" Mai picked up Ut on a bike that day.
Trinh Thanh, Mai's lawyer, said Hang's testimony was not persuasive enough to prove Mai was guilty of the rape and murder.
However, Binh Phuoc Province prosecutors maintained that Mai's original testimony matched evidence police collected at the crime scene, thus reinforcing the conclusion that Mai was guilty.
The case has attracted public attention over the last few years and become one of the most controversial cases in the country.
Many critics say the case reflects the weakness of the Vietnamese justice system.
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