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Two death sentences handed down in Dong Tam case

Two death sentences and one life imprisonment have been handed down to those involved in the murder of three policemen in Dong Tam commune of Hanoi’s My Duc district earlier this year.

The People’s Court of Hanoi on September 14 sentenced Le Dinh Cong and Le Dinh Chuc to death while Le Dinh Doanh was given life behind bars.

Bui Viet Hieu, Nguyen Quoc Tien, and Nguyen Van Tuyen received sentences of 16 years, 13 years, and 12 years in prison, respectively.

All were charged with “murder” pursuant to Clause 1, Article 123 of the 2015 Penal Code.

The remaining 23 defendants were given sentences from 15 months’ probation to six years in prison for “resisting on-duty officers” pursuant to Clause 2, Article 330 of the 2015 Penal Code. Of whom, 14 received suspended sentences and were freed after the hearing.

The first instance conclusion shows that this was an extremely serious case, with the defendants’ criminal deeds extremely dangerous for society, running counter to the law, disregarding the State’s principles, infringing upon the State and local authorities’ right activities, and displaying contempt for the lives and health of others, especially those on duty.

Their deeds were extremely brutal and inhumane, using petrol to burn the three policemen when they fell into a pit between Chuc’s house and his neighbour, with their bodies becoming unidentifiable.

The jury said this was a huge loss for the public security force as well as the families of the three policemen. The case caused outrage among people in Hanoi in particular and in Vietnam at large, requiring strict sentences for the defendants.

The six defendants accused of “murder” were the masterminds of the crime and they also led and directly committed criminal acts. They had closely colluded with others who were key members of a so-called “group of consensus” led by Le Dinh Kinh. Kinh was shot dead while holding a grenade and calling on others to resist on-duty officers.

Cong was the leader and often incited others to kill police officers by posting video clips and livestreaming on social networks. He also threatened to bomb power stations and kill 300-500 police officers, assigned tasks to other defendants, and actively performed these acts.

He also directed and contributed money to buy petrol and grenades, guided others how to make petrol bombs and tinder, and directly threw petrol bombs and grenades toward on-duty officers.

Considering that the consequences of Cong’s actions are particularly serious, the jury said it is necessary to apply the most severe punishment against him, to ensure the strictness of the law, general deterrence, education, and prevention.

On late January 8 and early January 9, when informed of the appearance of on-duty officers in Hoanh village, Le Dinh Chuc and other defendants brought weapons to the rooftop of a neighbouring house. They threw four petrol bombs and one grenade at the police, and used hand-made weapons to attack the officers, causing three of them to fall into a pit near Kinh’s house. Chuc and Doanh repeatedly poured petrol into the pit and set it on fire, killing the three policemen.

Chuc’s act was the most drastic and the direct cause of the death of the on-duty policemen, with an obvious motive of murder and showing great aggressiveness and a lack of humanity.

During investigations and in court, Chuc admitted his guilt, but did not really show remorse as he still tried to blame Doanh.

Meanwhile, Le Dinh Doanh actively responded to Kinh’s appeal to resist the administration with the aim of illegally occupying land at Dong Tam commune’s Senh field. Doanh joined many discussions on how to oppose the administration and kill police officers. He had received 500,000 VND (21.5 USD) from Kinh to buy knives and hire people to weld the knives to iron tubes, which were used by Doanh and other defendants in the attack on the police on late January 8 and early January 9. Doanh also set the fire that killed the three officers.

His acts were extremely serious and it is necessary to apply a severe penalty against him. However, as Doanh pleaded guilty, showed remorse, and is Cong’s son, the jury decided to give him a chance to rehabilitate under the State’s humanitarian and lenient policy.

Bui Viet Hieu and Nguyen Van Tuyen, driven by greed for land, incited others to commit crimes. As the death of the policemen was associated with their behaviour, they must be punished strictly, the jury said, adding that there were also mitigating circumstances, as Hieu committed the crime when he was over 70 years old and Tuyen is a person with disabilities.

Nguyen Quoc Tien was confirmed to have participated in the case right from the beginning and actively contributed money to buy petrol and grenades. He made petrol bombs and purchased 10 grenades with the aim of killing policemen with his accomplices. Though the grenades he had bought did not explode, he clearly believed they were real and would cause death and severe injuries.

He must therefore be strictly punished and be given a penalty commensurate with his criminal acts.

According to the procuracy’s indictment, despite being well aware that the land at Senh field was used for defence purposes and was under the management of the Defence Ministry, as confirmed by the Hanoi Inspectorate and the Government Inspectorate in 2013, Kinh (born in 1936 and a resident in Hoanh village ) and others set up the “group of consensus” with the aim of re-occupying and dividing the land lot among themselves.

They frequently incited local people to file complaints about the Dong Tam administration’s land management and use, used social networks to spread false information that Senh field belongs to Dong Tam commune, and called on local people to “struggle to keep the land”.

In late 2019 and early 2020, upon learning that the Hanoi Department of Public Security coordinated with the air defence - air force service of the Defence Ministry to deploy personnel to protect those building fencing around Mieu Mon airfield on Senh field, Kinh and his accomplices bought weapons with the aim of attacking the force.

In the early hours on January 9, 2020, when police arrived at the gate of Hoanh village, about 50 metres from Kinh’s house, the group used hand-made weapons to attack police, causing three police officers to fall into a pit near Kinh’s house. Le Dinh Chuc and Le Dinh Doanh poured gasoline into the pit and set it on fire, killing the three policemen. At the same time, the authorised force found Kinh holding a grenade and calling upon others to resist those on-duty, and took the decision to shoot him dead.