Vietnam court upholds death penalty for slasher robber

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Ho Duy Truc, 21, is sentenced to death for leading a machete-armed gang of thieves responsible for 15 robberies in Ho Chi Minh City, including one incident in which a victim's hand was cut off. PHOTO COURTESY OF TUOI TRE
A 21-year-old man who led a machete-armed gang that hacked off a woman's hand and violently robbed at least 13 people in Ho Chi Minh City saw his death sentence upheld by a city appeals court on Monday.
The HCMC People’s Court also maintained the first trial’s verdicts against three of Ho Duy Truc's accomplices who had appealed for reduced sentences, including one life sentence.
The board of judges said Truc’s criminal acts were “too brutal” and had frightened the public.
They also said that he committed his crimes “professionally” and was “unchangeable,” given that he and his gang had conducted 15 robberies across the city between June and November last year.
Previously the man had been hit with two sentences totaling 12 years from a court in the south-central province of Ninh Thuan, where he had conducted two robberies. 
According to the indictment, for the robberies in HCMC, Truc and his accomplices stole 15 motorbikes, money, gold and cell phones worth a total of VND610 million (US$28,500).
Truc and his accomplices were arrested after an attack on Nguyen Thi Thuy, 30, in an attempt to steal her motorbike on November 24 last year.
That day, Truc and Tran Van Luong, 26, Nguyen Hoang Phuong, 21, and Huynh Thanh Son, 32, rode on two motorbikes and approached Thuy while she drove over the Phu My Bridge in District 2, according to investigators.
Truc, who was riding on the back of Luong's bike, slashed at Thuy's right wrist twice with a 50-centimeter-long machete.
She jumped off her bike, holding her hand that was hanging by the skin, and cried for help.
Phuong and Son then snatched her handbag while the others struggled to start her motorbike.
Passers-by rushed to the scene after hearing Thuy's cries and the would-be thieves fled without her bike.
Police arrested the four that same night soon after they had checked into a hotel in Binh Chanh District. They later apprehended four other members of the gang.
Luong was jailed for life while Phuong and Son were sentenced to 20 and 18 years, respectively, for robbery at the first trial held in December last year.
Tran Thanh Tuyen, 23, received a jail term of 12 years, also for robbery.
Three others were sentenced to as long as 12 years in prison for buying stolen motorbikes and then reselling them.

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