|"Sorcerer Thuy" (in frey outfit, seated) witnesses members of a family searching for the remains of their relatives. He will go to trail on charges of grave infringements and fraudulent appropriation of property. — Photo nld.com.vn
QUANG TRI (VNS) — Quang Tri Province Police yesterday finished a two-year-long investigation into a massive fraud in which families looking for the remains of missing relatives in the war were cheated.
Fifty-nine-year-old Nguyen Van Thuy, or "Sorcerer Thuy," as believers call him, his wife Man Thi Duyen, 53, and four others will go to trial on charges of grave infringements and fraudulent appropriation of property for faking the remains of martyrs and charging their families for finding their missing relative's graves for them.
In 2008, after being released from various prisons, Thuy and Duyen bought urns that looked old and buried them to create fake graves. Thuy later acted possessed and showed the families of martyrs those fake graves.
Thuy's gang first gathered relevant information about the missing martyr, such as his name, hometown, fighting unit, and the reported death place. The group later go to the spot of death and bury bones, usually of animals, and some personal belongings that looked close to things used by soldiers during that period of time.
Thuy's gang charged at least VND115 million (US$5,300) for finding a grave.
Considering his increasing popularity, in 2012, Thuy was asked by the Social Policy Bank to help locate the remains of several missing martyrs and offered him VND75 million ($3,400) per grave.
Thuy's gang decided to break into a martyr cemetery to dig up the remains of unidentified soldiers and submit them to cheat the payer. They went to numerous martyr cemeteries, including those in Quang Binh, Thua-Thien Hue, and Quang Tri Provinces, stealing remains from a total of 60 graves.
Vu Duc Chung, 69, a former guard at a martyr cemetery in the Central Highland Province of Kon Tum, was also charged with grave infringement for helping the gang steal the remains.
On July 25, 2013, the gang's fraudulent activities were discovered by the Military Command of Quang Tri and local authorities. — VNS