Vietnam court upholds death sentence upheld against murderous bookie

By Le Quang, Thanh Nien News

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Kha Cu being escorted to the crime scene during investigation of his murder. Photo: Le Quang Kha Cu being escorted to the crime scene during investigation of his murder. Photo: Le Quang
A court in Ho Chi Minh City upheld Wednesday the death sentence against a 43-year-old bookie who murdered a couple last year in an acid attack.
The HCMC Supreme People’s Court rejected appeals by Kha Cu, who was convicted of murdering Tran Thanh Liem and his wife Nguyen Thi Kim Huong on January 22, 2013.
According to the verdict, Cu took wagers on so de--an illegal numbers game based on the state lottery--near his house in District 6’s Ward 9, including Liem and Huong who often bet around VND5 million (US$94) at a time.
Cu allowed the couple to gradually accumulate a VND700 million (US$33,000) debt between April-July 2011.
Initially, they paid Cu back in installments and he collected a total VND200 million in this way, until December 2012 when he demanded they pay their remaining balance.
After failing to reclaim the money, Cu bought a box of powdered carbolic acid for the purposes of intimidating Liem and Huong.
On January 22, 2013, he liquidized half a liter of the chemical and arranged to meet the couple at a café on District 6’s Minh Phung Street.
After failing to negotiate the terms of his payment, the three quarreled and Cu suddenly threw acid at the couple.
Liem died on the spot while Huong died in a hospital, 12 days later.
The owners of the café suffered minor injuries, but refused to file a lawsuit against Cu.
On December 25, a court of first instance sentenced Cu to death. The court rejected his defense--that he faced financial difficulties and owed others a great deal of money.
The court also ordered Cu to pay the victims’ family VND298 million.
During his initial sentencing, Cu said he regretted his deeds and asked for his body to be donated to medical science. However, he and his family later appealed the verdict.
The Vietnamese Penal Code now includes 22 crimes punishable by death; a draft amendment is seeking to reduce the number--though it's unlikely to affect drug crimes, murder, treason and crimes against humanity, according to Tran Van Dung, head of the criminal law branch under the Ministry of Justice.

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