One death sentence, two life terms in Vienam murder trial

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The defendants at the court on September 6. Photo by Thai Son 

One man has been sentenced to death, two to life and three others between 12 and 20 years in prison for murder in a case where a public parade with the victim's corpse forced a second autopsy. 

During the course of the trial in the northern province of Vinh Phuc on Friday, the family of the victim continued to maintain that the son-in-law of the province's mayor was implicated in the murder, despite the police saying they could find no evidence for it.

After a two-day hearing, a Vinh Phuc court Friday convicted Phung Manh Tuan, 21, of murder and gave him the death penalty.

Phung Manh Tuan, 21, who led the group that had beaten up and killed Nguyen Tuan Anh, 27, in March, was sentenced to death at the two-day hearing that wrapped up Friday. Photo by Thai Son

His accomplices, Phung Dac Tu, 19, and Dang Quoc Tu, 33, were sentenced to life in prison.

Nguyen Van Dinh, 30, Nguyen Van Tinh, 25, and Nguyen Van Binh, 16, were given prison terms of 20, 18 and 12 years respectively.

Nguyen Anh Tuan, 21, received three years for "harboring crimes" although the six attackers told him about the attack; and Nguyen Duy Hiep, 27, got 2.5 years for "failure to denunciate crimes."

The court also ordered that the guilty have to pay over VND200 million (US$9,468) in total for the funeral of the victim Nguyen Tuan Anh, 27, as also provide money for raising the vicitm's two children until they are 18.

Before their sentencing, the defendants apologized to the victim's family and begged the panel of judges for mercy. They pleaded that they are given lighter sentences so they can make a new life for themselves.

But the judges rejected their pleas, saying that their actions were cruel as they pursued the victim to the end over a petty conflict.

They said Manh Tuan, accused of instigating the crime, chased Anh with a knife, got his accomplices involved in the attack and kicked the victim into a sewer, where he drowned. 

They said he had to be ejected from society.

Anh's family, meanwhile, maintained their accusation against Tran Khanh Dung, the son-in-law of Phung Quang Hung, chairman of the provincial People's Committee.

They have pointed out that all the six people sentenced for murder worked for Dung, director of a construction company, and lived in his house.

They had claimed repeatedly that Dung was involved in the killing, but prosecutors said police failed to find evidence to substantiate the allegation.

Petty conflict

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According to the indictment, on the evening of March 14, the victim, Tuan Anh, and his cousin Hiep met Manh Tuan and his group in a local restaurant.

They exchanged words and the fight was provoked after Anh made a few sarcastic comments about how Manh Tuan looked older than his age. All the people involved were drunk at that time, witnesses said.

Manh Tuan employed his group to join him in pursuing and assaulting Anh. Tuan and Dac Tu each took a knife from the restaurant when giving chase to the victim.

When they caught up with Anh, the group beat him up and slashed him. Hiep, the cousin, witnessed the attack.

Manh Tuan kicked Anh into a nearby sewer in Vinh Yen Town, the indictment said.

Tuan slashed the water in the sewer many times with his knife while Dinh and Tinh threw stones in order to find Anh, but when they could not do so, they left.

Hiep could not see Anh as well, and he went home. He did not tell the family what had happened.

Vinh Yen residents found Anh's body in the sewer on the morning of March 17.

Local police performed an autopsy and concluded that Anh had drowned after falling into the sewer.

However, his family disagreed with the finding and claimed it was arrived at cursorily. They said Anh had multiple bruises on his body and some of his teeth were missing.

Several local residents joined the family as they carried Anh's coffin across several streets in Vinh Yen later that day, demanding a detailed investigation into his death.The protest caused a five-hour traffic gridlock.

Police then carried out another autopsy, which said Anh died of drowning after he had been attacked and was still drunk when was kicked into the sewer.

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