Men who killed 5 rare wood seekers get death penalties

By Nguyen Phuc, Thanh Nien News

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A court in central Vietnam Friday handed down death sentences to two men for beating to death five people they held ransom in a forest last year.
Ho Van Cong, 38, and Ho Van Thanh, 40, were convicted of four felony charges against them, including murder, robbery, abduction, and illegal use of military-grade weapon by the People’s Court of Quang Tri Province.
They were also ordered to pay VND880 million (US$41,200) in compensation to the victims’ families and finance VND600,000 ($28) every month for each of the victims' children until they reach 18 years old.
Vietnamese-Laotian Ho Van Nguyen, 25, who allegedly joined the duo in committing the crimes, will stand a trial in Laos.
Cong and Thanh are both hailed from Huong Hoa District, Quang Tri Province.

Ho Van Cong (L) and Ho Van Thanh stand a trial in the central province of Quang Tri on May 30. They got death sentences for killing five people last year. Photo: Nguyen Phuc
According to the indictment, in March last year, Thanh lost money and his father-in-law’s motorbike in gambling. When he met Cong to borrow money to get the bike back, Cong instead asked Thanh to join him in a plan to kidnap people hunting rare wood and animals in local forests for ransom.
They also sought help from Nguyen in Sepon District, Laos, which borders Huong Hoa District, because Nguyen possessed a rifle.
On March 21 they headed for a forest in Huong Hoa, where they found and abducted three wood hunters the next day.
However, the hunters managed to untie themselves and run away when the kidnappers were searching their tent.
Around noon of March 23, the trio discovered another tent where seven hunters were staying.
They overpowered the hunters with the rifle, and ordered one of them to tie the rest.
After gathering and searching the hunters’ properties, they demanded 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 home and get money.

Relatives of the rare wood seekers who were murdered by Ho Van Cong and Ho Van Thanh bring their photos to the trial.
The kidnappers agreed, charging each of the hostages VND120 million ($5,600), and demanded that Ha return in three days.
Early the next morning 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 had 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.

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