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Vietnam executes man ignoring diplomatic pleas for mercy

Country is one of the world's top executioners and the biggest in Southeast Asia, Amnesty International says

Le Van Manh while living with his family. He was executed on Sept. 22.

Le Van Manh while living with his family. He was executed on Sept. 22. (Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Police via RFA)

Published: September 25, 2023 11:45 AM GMT

Updated: September 26, 2023 07:26 AM GMT

Vietnam has executed a man convicted of rape and murder, ignoring pleas for clemency by the European Union, various other countries and global rights groups as the Communist nation continues to be one of the world’s top executioners.

Lawyer Le Van Luan, said in a Facebook post, that Le Van Manh, 41, convicted for the rape and murder of a girl in 2005 was executed Sept. 22 , Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported on Sept. 23.

"News and official documents said the defendant Le Van Manh was executed on the morning of Sept 22, 2023," Luan said.

Hoa Binh Provincial Police execution facility also confirmed the execution through a death notice issued on Sept. 22.

The execution was carried out a day after a European Union delegation along with the embassies of Canada, the United Kingdom, and Norway issued a joint statement calling on Hanoi to show clemency.

“We strongly oppose the use of capital punishment at all times and in all circumstances, which is a cruel, inhuman, and degrading punishment and can never be justified, and advocate for Vietnam to adopt a moratorium on all executions,” the statement said.

This was the second statement from Western diplomats criticizing the death penalty in Vietnam in the last two months.

Nguyen Thi Viet, Manh’s mother told RFA that her son had said that he had been “tortured to force him to confess” during his trial.

The court had refused a request to examine him for evidence of physical torture during the trial, the report stated.

International rights groups, including Amnesty International have for years criticized Vietnam for its secretive policy towards capital punishment. Amnesty ranks Vietnam as one of the biggest executioners in the world and the biggest in Southeast Asia.

“Secrecy in North Korea and Vietnam, as well as restricted access to information in several other countries, also continued to impair a full assessment of global trends,” Amnesty said in its global report titled “Death Sentences and Executions 2021” released in 2022, CNN reported.

Amnesty’s report said that there were more than 119 death sentences handed down in 2021, among which 93 were for drug-related offenses.

According to previously classified government data made public in 2017, 429 executions took place between 2013 and 2016, putting the country behind only China and Iran in its use of the death penalty.

Rights groups, referring to partial official data, claimed death sentences rose by 30 percent between October 2020 and July 2021.

Vietnam had more than 1,200 people on death row by the end of 2021, the Amnesty report said, adding that the country is among three communist states including China and North Korea that do not reveal details of capital punishment and executions.

In Vietnam, the death penalty is handed down for 22 offenses including murder, armed robbery, drug trafficking, rape, sexual abuse of children, and a range of economic crimes.

Economic crimes such as corruption, fraud, and embezzlement of more than 500 million dong (US$20,510) worth of state property, illegal production and trading of food, foodstuffs, and medicines are also punishable by death.

Only those 75 or older, juvenile offenders, pregnant women, and women nursing children under 36 months old at the time the crime was committed or tried are spared the death penalty. In these cases the convicted person's punishment is commuted to life imprisonment.

According to Vietnamese law, officials convicted of corruption can be spared from the death penalty if they pay back at least 75 percent of what they illicitly obtained.

Until 2011, executions were carried out by a seven-man firing squad.

In November 2011, Vietnam's parliament introduced execution by lethal injection. The first such execution was in 2013.

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