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Vietnam's Supreme Court upholds controversial death sentence

Lawyers call on the government to reinvestigate the case of death row inmate Ho Duy Hai

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

UCA News reporter, Hanoi

Updated: May 11, 2020 09:45 AM GMT
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Vietnam's Supreme Court upholds controversial death sentence

Death row inmate Ho Duy Hai’s mother Nguyen Thi Loan (center) and her sister await the Supreme Court’s judgment on her son in front of the court in Hanoi on May 8. (Photo courtesy of Le Hoang)

Activists and lawyers have called on Vietnam’s government to reinvestigate a highly disputed murder case of a death row inmate after the Supreme Court confirmed his death sentence.

A 17-member jury led by Chief Justice Nguyen Hoa Binh on May 8 rejected the Supreme People’s Procuracy’s petition for canceling the judgments of previous trials and reinvestigating the controversial case of Ho Duy Hai after a three-day cassation trial in Hanoi.

The jury, all Communist Party members, stated that courts at the first instance and appeals had basic, legal and correct foundations to pass Hai’s death sentence for robbing and murdering two female post office workers in 2008 in Long An province.

Despite several shortcomings exposed in the process of investigation, prosecution and trial, these shortcomings “do not change the nature of the case,” they said.

After the judgment, Hai’s mother collapsed while his aunt and sister cried angrily outside the court. “Hai is innocent. No justice in Vietnam,” his sister Ho Thi Thu Thuy shouted loudly.

Lawyer Dang Dinh Manh said on his Facebook that Hai was convicted unjustly as there were 40 serious shortcomings in the police probe and prosecution.

He said the public consider Hai innocent despite any court judgment. “If justice is not from the court of law, it is from the people’s hearts,” Dang said.

Many activists said it was not fair and objective for Chief Justice Binh to preside at the cassation trial. Binh, 62, a former brigadier of the Public Security Ministry, rejected a petition by Hai’s family to reinvestigate the case when he served as prosecutor general of the Supreme People’s Procuracy in 2011.

On May 10, Hai’s mother Nguyen Thi Loan filed an urgent letter to Le Thi Nga, head of the National Assembly’s judicial committee, requesting Nga to petition the assembly to review the judgment.

Loan, 57, who sold her all her properties to file complaints to all levels of the government and international groups, said Nga met her five years ago to investigate the case’s inconsistencies, confirming that “there were serious violations committed by the police and prosecution in Hai’s case.” 

Lawyer Trinh Vinh Phuc called on other attorneys to work with the death row inmate’s family and lawyer Tran Hong Phong to bring the case to light so as to save Hai and restore public faith in the justice system.

On May 9, four civil society and Christian groups and 80 activists and intellectuals signed a petition calling on the Communist Party to take all responsibility for the case’s shortcomings and order agencies to clarify the case. The country is led by the party. 

They asked the Supreme People’s Procuracy to take criminal proceedings against those who lost evidence and gave incorrect information in case documents. Hai should be transferred to Hanoi for further inquiries.

They demanded the National Assembly review the hotly disputed murder case. They said people want the tragic case to be solved fairly so that laws do not cause unfairness to innocent people but justifiably punish killers regardless of their positions.

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