Vietnam wants Laos to try murder suspect

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Vietnamese authorities are asking Laos to try a Vietnamese-Laotian for his involvement in the murder of five Vietnamese along the border in March, Dan Tri online newspaper reported.

Ho Van Nguyen, 24, is accused of battering five people to death with two Vietnamese accomplices Ho Van Cong, 37, and Ho Van Thanh, 39, the report quoted investigators with the central province of Quang Tri's police department as saying.

While Quang Tri investigators have concluded their probe and will propose charges with prosecutors, they cannot extradite Nguyen from Laos for investigation and trial, they said.

They have reported the case to the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's  Procuracy Vietnam's highest prosecutorial office -- and the Ministry of Justice. The agencies will send letters to Lao agencies, asking them to question and try Nguyen.

In a previous interview with Nguoi Lao Dong (Laborer) newspaper, Col. Tran Duc Viet, vice director of the Quang Tri police department, said Lao laws do not allow their citizens to be extradited to a foreign country where they are accused of crimes.

The trio is accused of kidnapping seven people who were camping in a tent near the border in order to hunt for rare fragrant wood, Calambac, on March 23, according to an April report on Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper.

The culprits threatened the victims with a rifle and demanded a ransom of VND15 million each, according to the newspaper.

Since the people did not have money with them, the trio released one of them, Nguyen Van Ha, so he could go home and get money. Ha was ordered to return with the money in three days.

After Ha left, Do Duc Hien, one of the six hostages, managed to escape. On March 25, on his way out of the forest, Hien met Ha, who was returning to the place to submit the ransom.

They then decided to inform local border guards who later found five people buried in a hole.

It was reported that the trio tied their hostages' hands, forced them to kneel and battered them on the head until they died.

Quang Tri police arrested Cong and Thanh on April 3, while Lao police apprehended Nguyen two days later.

Calambac is a dark resinous heartwood that forms in agar wood trees when they become infected with a type of mold.

The wood fetches premium prices because it is believed to bring good luck and have the capacity to cure some otherwise incurable diseases.

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