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81-year-old man cleared of murder charge after 44 years

Update: August, 10/2016 - 15:00
Trần Văn Thêm sits in front of his house in Bắc Ninh Province. — Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — Trần Văn Thêm, 81, of northern Bắc Ninh Province’s Yên Phụ Commune, after 44 years charged with murdering, was declared innocent by Deputy Judge of the Supreme People’s Court Bùi Ngọc Hòa yesterday afternoon.

Further, judicial agencies are prepared to officially apologise to Thêm and compensate him for the losses he suffered due to their mistake.

Previously, on July 23, 1970, Thêm and his male cousin went to Vĩnh Phú Province’s Đông Tĩnh Commune to buy trám (Canarium nigrum Engl) fruit to sell in their hometown. That night, when the two men were sleeping in a hut, a robber used a hammer to strike them. His cousin was struck in his head. Thêm screamed and tried to fight off the robber, who escaped. After hearing Thêm screaming, local residents came to his assistance. At that time, Thêm was found with a bloody stick in his hands. Local residents helped him bring his cousin to the commune’s health station for first aid. However, his cousin died on the way to Vĩnh Phú Hospital.

In August 1972, the People’s Court of Vĩnh Phú Province charged him with murdering his cousin and sentenced him to death. Thêm appealed against the charge, but in August 1973 he received the same verdict from the appeals court.

However, in 1975 the real murderer confessed to having committed the crime. Early in 1976, Thêm was freed from prison without an official declaration from a court.

He returned to his hometown and faced much hostility from local residents and even his cousin’s family.

“My cousin’s family even thought I gave money so that I could be freed. It’s really painful,” he said.

Since then, Thêm and his family continuously sent letters to authorised agencies to say he was wrongfully convicted of murder and ask them to reverse the verdict.

In 2014, the Supreme People’s Court found the two verdicts in Thêm’s case to have been incorrect and ordered judicial agencies to change the verdict to not guilty for Thêm. — VNS


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