Supertitious murderers get 174 years in jail

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Sixteen people from Kien Giang Province were sentenced to a total of 174 years in jail for conspiring to kill a man they suspected of homicidal witchcraft.

One of the defendants Tien Xem, 51, as the father of the victim, Tien Sam, VietNamNet reported on Monday, October 11.

According to the verdict, Tien Qui, 30, who planned the murder, lost two relatives between late 2009 and early 2010.

Qui suspected that the deaths were caused by spells cast by Sam, a neighbor.

During his trial, Qui claimed that he had discovered razor blades and stones among the ashes of his relatives following their cremation. The discovery lead him to believe that black magic had caused their deaths, he said.

His supsicion turned to Sam, whom he knew had studied witchcraft.

Qui began conferring with his neighbors to establish a plot to kill Sam. He talked to Sam's father and the man guaranteed that if the murder was discovered, he would take the heat.

Sam was killed in a vacant rice paddy, last January.

His father said he suspected Sam had poisoned his own mother to death. He accepted Qui's plan to ensure that his son wouldn't cause any further harm to anyone.

The defendants said they didn't have any personal problems with Sam prior to the murder.

They were asked to give Sam's family VND42 million (US$2,154) and support his four children until they turned 18.

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