Vietnamese kidnapers sentenced for torturing, enslaving Chinese programmer

By Hai Thu   August 17, 2023 | 03:29 pm PT
Vietnamese kidnapers sentenced for torturing, enslaving Chinese programmer
Vuong Van Kiem, Pham Van Huan, Ly Van Hoang on trial at the Hanoi People's Court, August 17, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Danh Lam
In a recent case of modern-day slavery, the Vietnamese captors of a Chinese programmer whom they tortured for months to create an online gambling game have been sentenced to prison.

For the crimes of "deliberate infliction of bodily harm," and "illegal arrest, detention or imprisonment of a person," the Hanoi People’s Court on Thursday convicted and sentenced Vuong Van Kiem, 32, Pham Van Huan, 33, and Ly Van Hoang, 32, to 24, 22 and 12 years in prison, respectively.

The group of local violent criminals had kidnapped Chinese national Fang Lijing, 46, a game programmer, and had tortured him into creating an online gambling game from which they could profit.

Lijing had entered Vietnam in 2019 to look for business partners. Fang said he made a deal to code online games for a man named Hoang Thanh Son, 38, in Da Nang, in return for 20% of the game’s future profits.

At the end of 2021, Son asked Fang to create an online gambling game, but Fang said he could not do it. On March 13, Fang was violently forced into a car by Son, Kiem and Huan, and was then held captive in an apartment in Hanoi's Thanh Oai District against his will, according to investigators.

Prosecutors said Huan and Kiem tortured Fang with "barbaric" methods such as beating him, cutting his body, electrocuting him and removing his teeth, all in order to force him to make the online gambling game.

Police said Kiem hired Hoang on June 24 to assist with cooking and daily chores at the kidnaping location, and also to help participate in the torturing of Fang. During the torture sessions, the three torturers turned on loud music to drown out Fang’s screams.

After four months of torture, the crimes of Kiem and his accomplices were exposed on July 14. Fang had injuries over 88% of his body.

In court, Kiem said he was hired by another Chinese man to torture Fang. Kiem met this man at the Mong Cai border gate, and Kiem was asked to "look after" Fang. Kiem was given money by the man for the cost of renting housing and other living expenses. As neither spoke the other’s language, Kiem and the Chinese man allegedly communicated through translation apps.

Both Huan and Hoang admitted to their crimes, saying they did not know Fang and that they were paid by Son and Kiem to do the job. Hoang said he lost his job as a taxi driver, and so took the job despite not knowing exactly what it entailed.

Son is currently a fugitive at large.

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