Vietnam to test remains of 70 martyrs found by fake telepath

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Nguyen Thanh Thuy (C) during the excavation of the remains of 73 martyrs in the Central Highlands Province of Dak Lak last year / FILE PHOTO

Vietnamese authorities are excavating the remains of 70 missing martyrs previously "discovered" with telepathy for DNA testing, after the psychic that found them was arrested for fraud.

The Ministry of Public Security collaborated with the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak's authorities in launching the excavation on Monday at a local martyrs' graveyard.

The remains which are suspected of being animal bones were among 73 sets of remains found by Nguyen Thanh Thuy, 55, in Ea H'Leo District in December 2012 and March 2013. They were unearthed at 18 different locations and were later buried at the graveyard without being tested.

Three identified sets of remains were brought home for burial by their families.

According to online newspaper Dan Tri, 15 of the remains were found with objects carrying the names of the dead, while the rest were unidentified.

Investigators say that Thuy, a former police officer once jailed for fraud, was hired by the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies to find the remains at VND73 million ($3,400) each set.

Thuy and his wife Man Thi Duyen, 52, were arrested in the central province of Quang Tri in October last year for allegedly faking the remains of nine martyrs he discovered in July also in collaboration with the bank.

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The Military Forensic Institute, which conducted DNA tests on the remains as being proposed by the province's military headquarters and the Department of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs, concluded that a majority of the remains were pig and cat bones.

The couple was arrested after an investigative report on Vietnam Television exposed common tricks that charlatan clairvoyants used to cheat families of martyrs out of money.

It is estimated that the remains of around 500,000 martyrs have not been found or identified in Vietnam.

Families across the country continue to search for them using both official channels and mediums though controversies over the reliability of telepathy have been making headlines for years.

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