Chief Justice of the Supreme People's Court Truong Hoa Binh has ordered a new trial for the director of a real estate firm who hired gangsters to kill his deputy for blowing the whistle on his fraudulent land deals in 2009.
The life sentence handed down in 2011 to Ngo Quang Truong, director of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Hoang Hai Housing Investment and Trading Joint Stock Company, is not in line with Vietnam's policy of strictly punishing the kingpins of organized crime, he said.
In the new trial, prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Truong.
According to the original verdict, Troung and his deputy, Dang Xuan Sy, developed a personal conflict after the latter reported the former's shady land dealings to local authorities.
Sy denounced Truong for falsifying documents in order to receive compensation from authorities of Hoc Mon District when his company was appointed to invest in a residential area in the district.
In October 2009, Truong hired Vu Van Luan, a notorious gangster from the northern port city of Hai Phong to whom he was closely connected, to "teach Sy a lesson." Truong knew Luan because he had given him a land plot in Ho Chi Minh City.
Luan ordered six subordinates to follow Sy and knife him, which they did as he was driving a motorbike on Hai Ba Trung Street on October 15, 2009. Sy died on the way to the hospital.
Truong, Luan and his subordinates were arrested soon afterward.
In September 2011, a Ho Chi Minh City court handed down a life sentence to Truong. Luan received the death penalty, while his subordinates were sentenced to between two and a half and 20 years in jail.
All defendants appealed the verdict, requesting more lenient punishments while Sy's lawyer also appealed the verdict. The HCMC Prosecutors' Office had proposed that Truong be sentenced to death.
In December 2011, the Supreme People's Court rejected all appeals, upholding the verdict which Chief Justice Binh overturned last week.
Binh has ordered the Supreme People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City to retry Truong, saying he was the mastermind of an organized crime syndicate.