Vietnam man to be tried again for rape, murder after acquittal

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A man who was acquitted of raping and killing an 11-year-old girl by a court in the southern Vietnamese province of Binh Phuoc will be tried again after the Supreme Court upheld an appeal by prosecutors.

The People's Supreme Court in Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday overturned a verdict handed down last May by a provincial court, which had said there was not sufficient evidence to convict Le Ba Mai, 30, for the 2004 murder and rape of Thi Ut.

The court accepted the appeal filed by the Binh Phuoc Procuracy, saying Mai's confession matched witness testimonies.

Earlier, while acquitting him, the trial judges had said there were conflicts in the testimony of the only witness, Ut's younger sister Thi Hang, nine at the time of the murder, as well as in Mai's confession.

Critical mistakes had also been made in both the legal and investigative procedures, they had said.

Two trials in March and May 2005 both saw Mai convicted and sentenced to death.

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According to the latest indictment, on November 12, 2004, Mai, who was working on a farm, saw Ut and Hang picking cassava in a garden.

He persuaded Ut to accompany him on his motorbike to a jackfruit orchard, raped her, and strangled her to death with her trousers.

He then hid the body in the garden, and it was not found for four days.

Mai was arrested the next day after Hang told the police Ut had gone with him before she was killed.

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