Vietnam court frees young man in killing case despite rejecting self-defense plea

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Nguyen Quang Hung, 19, was released by a Hanoi court Wednesday though his plea of self-defense was rejected Photo: Tuoi Tre

A Hanoi court Wednesday freed a young man despite not accepting his plea of self-defense in killing a man after sentencing him to the exact period he had already spent in police custody.

The court gave Nguyen Quang Hung, 19, nine months and 18 days for accidentally killing a person who had attacked him without provocation.

Last August Hung of Hanoi's Phuc Tho District had gone out with his friends to a nearby river to celebrate his admission to university.

At around 9:30 p.m. Hoang Van Than, 22, went past the group along with some friends, shone a light in the face of one of Hung's friends, Nguyen Kieu Trang, and teased and harassed her.

Hung hurriedly tried to ride Trang home on her bicycle, but was chased by Than's group.

He took a knife that Trang had brought to cut fruits and threatened the chasing pack, but this failed to put them off.

Hung was chased into a nearby alley, and Than and three others, Duong Hoang Nam, 17, Hoang Van Binh, 26, and Hoang Van Sinh, 18, began to attack him. 

In the ensuing melee Than was stabbed in the chest.

Hung fled the scene but turned himself in to the police the next day.

He was first charged with "murder" but prosecutors changed it to "killing but not in legitimate self-defense," which carries a sentence of two years' non-custodial reform or jail term of three months to two years.

The charge is a degree below manslaughter, which carries a sentence of six months to five years.

Hung pled self-defense but the court rejected it. The judge said he was lenient because of Hung's honesty and the provocation by Than.

Nam, Binh, and Sinh were convicted of "disturbing public order," and got suspended sentences of nine to 12 months.

The case caught public attention and many people expressed sympathy for Hung and called on authorities to withdraw or reduce the charge.

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