|Phạm Thị Thiên Hà at the court on Thursday morning, — VNA/VNS Photo Huyền Trang|
BÌNH DƯƠNG — Bình Dương Province People’s Court on Thursday opened a trial into four people implicated in a gruesome “corpse-in-concrete” case which happened in May last year.
Thirty-seven witnesses and other people involved in the case were also summoned. Phạm Thị Thiên Hà – the main defendant – was represented by two lawyers.
The crime took place in Bàu Bàng District, Bình Dương Province in May 2019.
The mastermind – 32-year-old Phạm Thị Thiên Hà, residing in HCM City’s Tân Phú District – is charged with murder. Her accomplices, 67-year-old Trịnh Thị Hồng Hoa – Hà’s mother; 30-year-old Lê Ngọc Phương Thảo; and 40-year-old Nguyễn Ngọc Tâm Huyên, are charged with two counts of murder and not denouncing criminals.
According to the indictment, the accused and two male victims gathered to practice Falun Gong guided by Hà.
The reclusive group did not follow principles of Falun Gong, yet practiced methods created by Hà such as fasting for 14 days or cutting ties with their families.
They usually gathered in isolated areas to avoid public attention.
The first victim was 50-year-old Trần Đức Linh from the central province of Nghệ An whose body was encased in glue.
According to the indictment, in January 2019, when the whole group was practicing at a resort in Bà Rịa–Vũng Tài Province, Linh, unable to fast for too many days, tried to escape.
Other members caught Linh, locked him up and beat the victim to death.
The group then moved his corpse to a house in Bàu Bàng District, Bình Dương Province.
27-year-old Trần Trí Thành residing in HCM City was identified as the second victim. During his time in Bình Dương Province, Thành ate in secret, masturbated and intended to have sex with group members, according to testimonies of the defendants. Hà and other members killed the man through electrocution and strangling.
When the victims’ corpses started decomposing, the gang bought two containers to hide them in and filled with concrete.
The crime was only detected when the homeowner wanted to sell the property but could not contact the group. The two containers were found when he broke into the house.
In court, Hà denounced the indictment, saying she did not kill Linh and even "cared" for him, Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper reported.
Admitting they beat Linh, Hà said that it was the main cause leading to his death. Explaining why they kept Linh's corpse for many months, the accused said though the victim was dead, they hoped he would be "revived", then put the body inside an air-conditioned room.
Denying the indictment to prosecute her mother, Phạm Thị Hồng Hoa, Hà said she ordered other members to kill him.
"I forced others to follow my orders. It was not a discussion among members," she said.
Hà told the jury that she had to kill Thành as his "dark side" was being revealed. If they had not killed him, he would have had a negative impact on the group. The accused said she thought she would have to kill him by herself. — VNS