Journalist’s death still confounding: editor

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Báo Tuổi Trẻ English - 37 month(s) ago 2 readings

Journalist’s death still confounding: editor

“Many issues remains incomprehensible,” in the case in which reporter Le Hoang Hung was allegedly burned to death with petrol by his wife Tran Thuy Lieu, Do Danh Phuong, editor-in-chief the newspaper, where Hung worked, said.

w Tran Thuy Lieu at her husband's funeral Photo: Tuoi Tre



Phuong made the statement to Tuoi Tre one day after the newspaper requested the head of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the chief judges of the Supreme People’s Court, and the Long An Province People’s Court to once again re-investigate the case.

The case had earlier been re-investigated following the August 5 request by Nguyen Thi Kim Nga, Hung’s mother; and the police in October reiterated their previously-stated conclusion that Lieu had acted alone in the killing. The provincial Procuracy has prosecuted her for murder, rejecting speculation that Nguyen Van Tam, Lieu’s lover, might have been involved in the crime.

“After Hung was burned, we visited him in hospital and believed that his wife was involved in the crime, but we did not believe that she acted alone,” Phuong told Tuoi Tre.

He also answered some questions from Tuoi Tre.

A: Do you think that the investigators may have missed someone else who could have involved in the crime?

Q: There were some shortcomings in the police’s re-creation of crime scene, since the re-creation was done during the day, while the crime was murder occurred at night, and some important witnesses were not present at the re-created scene.

Lieu has also repeatedly changed parts of her testimony; for example the length of the rope she had used to create a false scene before allegedly burning Hung. In addition, the investigators did not clarify the assertion made by some witnesses that a man [not Lieu] had bought the rope.

There were also many illogical points in Lieu’s testimonies. She said she bought the petrol that was contained in a plastic bag. She then put the bag into Hung’s cupboard two days before she used it in her crime.

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Le Hoang Hung, who was a journalist covering social, underworld, and anti-corruption issues. (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

Why did Lieu not fear that Hung could smell the petrol, or that the petrol could leak from the bag?

We simply cannot imagine the scene as it was described by Lieu to the investigators: she opened the bag of petrol with one hand, rolled up a newspaper sheet with the other, poured the petrol on to Hung, set fire to the paper, and then threw it onto him.

These details are very important, but the investigators have failed to clarify them.

What comments do you have about the developments of the investigation?

I think there are some mysteries here. I want to emphasize that Lieu has continued to change her testimony, and so have some of the witnesses. All of them appear to want to prove that Lieu is the sole culprit in the burning.

Some witnesses told us that the main door of the couple’s house was open at the time that the burning occurred, but the investigators later said it was closed. When we asked the witnesses again, they gave answers that were different from their initial stories.

More notable is that two of the witnesses left their residences after working with the investigation agency. After we published the information provided by them, they phoned us and said, “With such details published by the newspaper, we will be faced with an act of revenge.”

Why did they fear of revenge?

Do you have any other opinions?

I do not think the case should be considered as simply a wife burning her husband. Before, during, and after Hung’s funeral, Tam and Lieu often communicated via phone calls, text messages and letters, but the investigators did not clarify the content of their communication.

One more very important issue is that Hung’s statements before his death have not been included in the case file, even though investigators visited Hung in hospital and recorded all of his testimonies.

What is behind all of these dubious actions? It seems to me that the investigation agency wants to “cut short” the case and lay the blame on just one guilty person.

Therefore, we have requested a re-investigation and clarification from the Supreme People’s Procuracy.

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Nguyen Van Tam and Tran Thuy Lieu (Photo: Zing)

Many mysteries in case, dead man’s mother says

Nguyen Thi Kim Nga, 74, the mother of deceased journalist Le Hoang Hung, yesterday sent her petitions to Ministry of Public Security, the chief judge of the Long An Province People’s Court, and a few central agencies to request a re-investigation into the case.

Nga said in the paperwork that many issues remain unclear, and that the conclusion of the provincial investigation agency and the indictment issued by prosecutor’s office are not convincing.

The provincial Police Department director has confirmed that Tam’s acts contained signs of concealing criminals, but this issue has not been included in both the police’s conclusion and the Procuracy’s indictment.

Nga said she does not believe Lieu acted alone in her crime, as was concluded by the police, but that Lieu could have been aided by someone.

“I, the wife of a revolutionary martyr, always put my trust in the investigation agency which handles the case in which my son was burned to death, but I was very surprised to read its conclusion on the case and the indictment issued by the Procuracy.

“Both documents said that Lieu killed my son since he had often beaten her out of jealous love, but I asserted that the allegation that my son had beaten his wife was a complete fabrication.

“As Hung’s mother, I understand his nature. He was a good husband and father, who always loved and cared for his wife and children. Therefore, saying that my son was killed because he beat his wife is slander and defamation of the deceased.”

“There are many mysteries in the case that law enforcement agencies in Long An have yet to clarify. Why?” Nga wrote in her petitions. She said investigators have contacted her just twice since the murder, forcing her to get information on the case from the media.

The involved agencies have not kept her informed of the progress of the investigation, and when she went to the provincial police department and the prosecutor’s office to get information, nobody received her, Nga said.

She said she has demanded that the ministry handle the case directly, instead of letting the provincial police continue their investigation.

As reported, on January 19 Hung, 51, was sleeping alone in a bedroom when Lieu went out to the balcony, tied a rope to the railing, and let it fall to the ground.

She returned to her room, got some petrol, a newspaper, and a lighter, walked into Hung’s room, poured the petrol on the mattress, set fire to the newspaper, and threw it on the mattress.

Hung died 10 days later in a hospital in Ho Chi Minh City.

On February 20 Lieu pleaded guilty to the burning of Hung and told the police she had acted alone in the crime.

Hung was a journalist covering social, underworld, and anti-corruption issues.

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