Viet Nam News
BÌNH THUẬN — The People’s Court of the central Bình Thuận Province yesterday sentenced Nguyễn Thọ to 20 years in prison for a murder and robbery that he committed 18 years ago.
Thọ must also pay VNĐ 124 million (US$5,590) and a gold ring as compensation to the victim’s family.
Thọ’s case drew nationwide attention as it was related to the wrongful conviction of Huỳnh Văn Nén, who spent more than 17 years in jail before being declared innocent and freed from prison last December.
At the trial yesterday, Thọ, 40, pleaded guilty to the murder and robbery.
He admitted that on the evening of April 23, 1998, he and his accomplice Hồ Thanh Việt broke into the house of Lê Thị Bông, who lived in the same neighbourhood. After being discovered by Bông, Thọ and Việt used a wire to strangle Bông to death and took her gold ring.
After the murder, Thọ and Việt fled the locality. Việt later died of illness in 2001, while Thọ changed his named and traveled from place to place in several southern provinces and Cambodia.
Thọ said at the trial he did not know that Nén had been sent to jail for the crime.
On October 10, 2015, Thọ gave himself up to the police and confessed his crime, which was considered as an extenuating circumstance at the trial.
Nén was arrested in May 1998 for the murder and robbery charge. In 2000, Bình Thuận Province People’s Court sentenced him to life imprisonment for murdering Bông and also condemned him to six years in jail for killing another woman in 1993, which was also proved to be an incorrect conviction later.
After Thọ’s confession, Nén was cleared of the crime and freed from prison. He received a public apology from the provincial People’s Court, the provincial Procuracy Office and the Police Department.
He and the Bình Thuận Province People’s Court have been negotiating to decide on a compensation claim of VNĐ 18 billion ($806,900) that Nén wants for his 17 years in jail. — VNS