A Ho Chi Minh City court Tuesday (March 15) suspended the trial of two men accused of killing a senior Party district official last September after their lawyer refused to defend one of them, citing "conflicts in testimony."
Nguyen Trong Nhan, 31, and Luong Hoai Sang, 21, were being tried by the HCMC People's Court for murder and robbery. Their victim was Dang Thu Hong, 48, deputy chief of the Party Unit of Phu Nhuan District.
The counts against the two men carry a maximum penalty of the death sentence.
The trial was suspended at the end of the day after the court appointed lawyer, Pham Quoc Hung of the HCMC Bar Association, refused to defend Sang, saying the two men's testimonies at the trial contradicted each other.
The trial will be resumed as soon as another lawyer is appointed to defend Sang, the judges announced.
According to the indictment, Nhan and Sang stabbed Hong to death in the house of Bui Ngo Thi My, 52, chief of the Phu Nhuan District's Department of Natural Resources and Environment, on September 20, 2010.
Nhan and Sang allegedly went there to beat My up for frequently reprimanding Nhan's wife at work and threatening to sack her.
Nhan had asked his friend Sang to tag along to My's house. The men took with them duct tape, electric batons, handcuffs and three knives.
After their talk with My developed into a quarrel, the duo attacked her with the electric baton and stabbed her with a knife, forcing her to reveal where she kept her money.
They also beat up My's daughter, 25-year-old Tran Thu Huong, who ran down from upstairs and shouted for help until she passed out.
Hong, My's friend, happened to drop by the house at that time and Nhan beat her with a tennis racket and stabbed her 24 times with a knife.
Hong died on the spot while My and Huong sustained injuries. They recovered after receiving treatment.
At Tuesday's trial, Nhan told the court he did not intend to kill Hong or rob My, but he was furious and lost control after My rejected his request to let his wife off with a warning.
He said he just wanted to threaten My for being overly bossy to his wife.
However, his accomplice, Sang, contends that Nhan had planned the whole thing to beat My up and rob her money. Nhan had asked him to visit her house several times and observe the family's routine before confronting her, Sang said.
When soldiers of the local military headquarters opposite My's house heard the victims' screams and rushed to rescue them, Nhan had threatened them saying he would kill anyone who approached him.
He only surrendered when armed police showed up at the house.