Lê Minh Tú appears in court in Hưng Yên where he was sentenced to 12 years in prison. — Photos Gwent Police
Paul Kennedy and Vũ Thu Hà
HƯNG YÊN — In a legal first, a man has been jailed in Việt Nam for killing another man 14 years ago in the United Kingdom.
It is the first time a trial has been held in Việt Nam for an offence committed in a foreign country.
Lê Minh Tú, 47, was sentenced to 12 years in prison at the People's Court of Hưng Yên Province for the unlawful killing of 44-year-old Trần Nguyên who died after he was badly beaten in November 2006.
Detective Chief Inspector Justin O’Keefe of Gwent Police said: “This was the first time a trial was held in Việt Nam for a foreign offence. It’s taken years of work liaising with a range of authorities, but we never lost hope that we would see the outcome we now have.”
Detective Chief Inspector Justin O’Keefe of Gwent Police talks about the case and the cooperation between UK and Vietnamese agencies. Video: Gwent Police
Lê Văn Tuấn, Chief Judge of Hưng Yên Province People’s Court told Việt Nam News: “The case has clearly proved the effective co-operation between the two countries. A representative from the UK Embassy attended the court on Monday, saying the UK was very pleased with the helpful co-operation from Việt Nam.”
Nguyên had been brought to the UK in the back of a lorry in 2006 and was illegally employed looking after a cannabis factory.
Trần Nguyên who was found unconscious and unresponsive outside the Royal Gwent Hospital in the United Kingdom in 2006.
That factory was raided by a rival gang and the drugs stolen, and Nguyên was thought to have been the ‘inside man’ in the robbery.
As punishment, he was taken from Newport to a house in London where he was beaten and tortured.
The gang even telephoned his wife in Việt Nam so she could hear him being beaten on the phone.
They told her she must pay more than VNĐ1 billion (US$50,000) or “Be prepared to collect your husband’s corpse”.
After the attack, he was driven back to Wales and dumped outside the Royal Gwent Hospital where he later died.
In 2008, three Vietnamese nationals went on trial at Cardiff Crown Court and were eventually convicted of manslaughter and jailed for a total of 23 years.
The fourth suspect, Lê Minh Tú, fled the country and was not arrested at the time. Police in the UK had information he was first living in Germany, then the Czech Republic before returning to Việt Nam.
Now, 14 years since the assault, he has been captured by police in Việt Nam, tried and convicted of the unlawful killing.
As well as being sentenced to 12 years in prison, Lê Minh Tú was also ordered to pay the family of the man he killed VNĐ116 million. — VNS