Men to stand trial for killing hostages in central Vietnam

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  A file photo of Ho Van Thanh (L) and Ho Van Cong upon their arrest in April last year for allegedly killing five wood hunters in the central province of Quang Tri that same year

Prosecutors in the central province of Quang Tri have ratified charges against two men accused of killing five people they held to ransom last year, Cong An Nhan Dan (People’s Police) newspaper reported Tuesday.

Local investigators have also asked the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People’s Procuracy (Vietnam's highest prosecutors' office), and the Ministry of Justice to propose that Lao authorities try Vietnamese-Laotian Ho Van Nguyen, 25, who allegedly joined Ho Van Cong, 39, and Ho Van Thanh, 40, in the abduction and murder.

Nguyen was arrested in Laos not long after the offenses, but Lao laws do not allow their citizens to be extradited to a foreign country where they are accused of crimes.

Meanwhile, Cong and Thanh were charged with “abduction,” “murder,” “robbery,” and “keeping and using military weapon illegally,” according to the indictment issued by Quang Tri prosecutors' body.

Prosecutors said in mid-March last year Thanh lost money and his father-in-law’s motorbike in gambling. So, he came to meet his friend Cong to borrow money in order to get the bike back.

But Cong said he did not have money and, instead, asked Thanh to join him in a plan to kidnap people hunting rare wood and animals in the forest for ransom.

The duo then visited Nguyen in Sepon District, Laos, which borders the province’s Huong Hoa District, to ask the latter to join them because Nguyen possessed a rifle.

On March 21 they headed for a border forest in Huong Hoa, where they discovered and abducted three wood hunters the next day.

However, the hunters managed to run away when the kidnappers were searching their tent.

After that, the escaped loggers came across two other groups of 17 wood hunters and told them about the abduction.

On March 23, five of them left the forest for fear of the kidnappers, while the rest were divided into two groups: seven people returned home to get more foods and equipment to continue their hunting, and the others stayed at the tent to do cooking and keep watch of their base.

Around noon that same day, the kidnappers discovered the tent, where seven hunters were staying (another one was out to pick vegetables).

They then overpowered the hunters with the rifle, and ordered one of them to tie the rest.

After gathering and searching the hunters’ properties, they demanded more money and were about to kill the hostages when the latter said they had no money.

Hoang Van Ha, one of the seven hostages, then begged them to let him go so he could go home and get money.

The kidnappers agreed and demanded that Ha return in three days.

Early morning the next day they escorted the hunters some 20 meters away from the tent, and started beating their hostages one by one to death. The bodies were buried in a hole Thanh dug the previous night.

Do Van Hien, one of the six hostages, managed to run away during the killings.

All the killers were arrested in early April.

The Vietnamese trial was expected to be held some time this month, according to the newspaper.

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