Vietnam court sentences leader of gold heist bombing to death

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Ta Van Thanh (3rd from left) receives a death sentence for leading a failed gold heist involving homemade bombs in Hanoi last year. Photo by Thai Son

A court in Hanoi Tuesday sentenced a man to death and his younger brother to life in prison for setting off explosives that damaged local houses as part of a failed gold heist last June.

Ta Van Thanh, his younger brother Ta Hai Ha, their cousin Phi Van Manh, and Bui Thanh Kha were charged with murder, robbery, destroying property and the illegal purchase and use of explosives.

Thanh, 26, the mastermind of the operation, was sentenced to death. Between February and March of last year, he bought 36 kilograms of explosives and 20 detonators for VND4 million from Kha, also 26, who stole the bomb making materials from his mining company, for which he received seven years in jail.

Thanh had entered the Hoang Tin gold shop on June 21 with a bag containing two bombs, showing the owner a note asking threatening to blow him up if he didn't cooperate. He ran when two people at the shop managed to seize the bag.

Ha, 21, helped make the bombs, which were controlled by toy car's remote control. He detonated a 10-kilogram bomb to help Thanh escape from the failed robbery. The explosion damaged three shops and injured 15 people. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Manh, the 23-year-old cousin, got 12 years in jail for joining Thanh in a previous robbery of another gold shop in which they also came armed with a 10-kg bomb. But in that instance, the shop owner was able to seize the explosive, tossing into a local river.

Investigations found Thanh had learned how to make bombs from a Tran Van Thanh, 39, who police are still searching for.

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