Vietnam court reprieves dog thief murderers

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Ten dog thief murderers appealed their sentences in the central city of Da Nang on Friday. Photo: Nguyen Tu

The Supreme People’s Court has reduced jail terms for six of ten people convicted of beating two suspected dogs thieves to death in the north-central province of Quang Tri.
The appeal trial, held in the central city of Da Nang on August 30, drew hundreds of spectators from their village in Quang Tri.
Deadly mob justice has grown increasingly common in parts of rural Vietnam that are plagued by rampant dog theft.
The defendants, all residents of Nhi Trung Village, Gio Linh District, Quang Tri Province, participated in a fatal vigilante beating on August 29, 2012.
According to the indictment, a rash of dog thefts in their hamlets inspired three local men to catch the culprit.
Those men were Tran Van Tien, 25, Tran Van Chung, 27, and Nguyen Dang Truong, 29.
Early on the morning in question, the trio sat waiting near their village's gate where they spotted two strangers who were later identified as Nguyen Dang Cuong, 32, and Nguyen Xuan Trieu, 42, driving in on a motorbike.
After the two strangers snared a local dog, the three vigilantes began crying out to their neighbors as they chased the thieves down with clubs.
Cuong and Trieu lashed out at their pursuers with flashlights and fistfuls of chili powder but they couldn't escape.
The mob beat them unconsciousness.
The two thieves later succumbed to serious injuries after police brought them to a local hospital.
Prosecutors said seven villagers named Nguyen Trung Ha, 19, Tran Thanh Khang, 23, Nguyen Dang Son, 39, Nguyen Dang Quy and Nguyen Dang Loi, both 41, Nguyen Thanh Binh, 58, and Nguyen Dang Huan, 60, attempted to assist the three men whom the court found ultimately responsible for the killings.
All of the suspects were found guilty by a court in Quang Tri on March 28.
On Friday, the Supreme People’s Court in Da Nang reduced the 3-year sentence handed down to Truong to 2 years.
Tien, Chung, Quy, and Loi had their 2.5-year jail terms reduced to 6 months.
Ha, who was sentenced to 2 years in March, had his jail term reduced to probation.
The appeal trial upheld the two-year probationary periods given to four others.
Dog theft is common in Vietnam.
Restaurants and slaughterhouses often pay VND60,000-120,000 (US$3-6) per kilogram for dogs without asking many questions about their origins.
Mobs throughout the country have beaten and killed dog thieves or suspected thieves after becoming fed up with police who only fine the thieves in the rare instances when they're caught.
There have been many deaths in confrontations between dog thieves and owners in Vietnam, especially in northern and central regions.

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