Vietnam teen jailed for senseless street slaying

By Huong Giang, Thanh Nien News

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Nguyen Van Tuan, 18, being escorted out of a courtroom in Ho Chi Minh City on August 20, 2014. The boy received 18 years in jail for stabbing an innocent man to death. Photo: Huong Giang Nguyen Van Tuan, 18, being escorted out of a courtroom in Ho Chi Minh City on August 20, 2014. The boy received 18 years in jail for stabbing an innocent man to death. Photo: Huong Giang

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A court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced a local teenage boy to 18 years in jail, on Wednesday, for fatally stabbing an innocent bystander last year.
Nguyen Van Tuan, 18, received the heaviest punishment allowable by law for a murder committed by a minor.
According to the indictment read in court, Tuan and his two friends went out on the afternoon of August 21, 2013 to snatch offerings for the dead.
Vietnamese seek to honor the wandering souls of their ancestors during the seventh lunar month by laying out offerings, mostly food, at their doors. Last year's 7th lunar month fell August 7 to September 4, 2013.
Some families invite neighbors to grab items from these trays, others do not.
The ritual was traditionally fun and reserved for children, but as the offerings became increasingly valuable (e.g. cash) the custom of grabbing the items grew far more mischievous and competitive.
Tuan and his friends found themselves jostling with a group of around ten young men when a neighbor came outside and began laying out small cash notes.
In the chaos that ensued a rival teen picked up a length of sugarcane and began hitting Tuan and his friends with it.
Tuan ran to a nearby café and grabbed a knife.
After returning to the house, he mistook two men standing on the sidewalk stuffing food into a plastic bag as members of the rival group.
Tuan fatally stabbed Ho Huu Phong in the chest as his friend ran away.

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