Three jailed for life in Phu Quoc deadly land dispute shooting

By Ngoc Tai   January 31, 2024 | 03:14 pm PT
Three jailed for life in Phu Quoc deadly land dispute shooting
(From L) Doan Thien Long, Bui Minh Trung, and Nguyen Van Thai stand trial at a court in Kien Giang Province, January 2024. Photos by VnExpress/Ngoc Tai
Three men were sentenced to life imprisonment for their involvement in a shooting over land dispute that killed two people and severely injured four others on Phu Quoc Island.

A court in the southern Kien Giang Province on Wednesday sentenced Doan Thien Long, 23, and Nguyen Van Thai, 36, and Bui Duc Ngoc, 32, for "murder" and "illegal use of military weapons."

Two other men, Pham Anh Hieu, and Bui Minh Trung received jail terms of 20 and 14 years, respectively.

The remainder of the 70 defendants received from six months on bail to 13 years behind bars for "murder," "causing public disorder," "concealing crimes," "storing, transporting, trading, and illegally using military weapons."

The incident started from a land dispute between local men and two men from Ca Mau Province that border Kien Giang Province, home to Phu Quoc, police said.

On Oct. 27, 2022, more than 50 people working for the Ca Mau men traveled to a land plot belonging to the Phu Quoc men in eight cars to settle their dispute, bringing along guns and machetes. On that land plot, many workers were building a villa.

As the fight escalated, the Ca Mau men opened fire, killing Phan Trong Hai, 24, and Nguyen Anh Thu, 26, and causing serious injuries to four other people.

Footage from a security camera in the neighborhood showed at least 12 shots were fired.

According to the jury, Long was the most active, firing three times at the victims from a distance of 10-15 meters away, killing two people and injuring six.

Ngoc played the most important role when inciting and arranging vehicles for the group of gangsters to travel to the scene to protect the land, hand over the guns and order Long to "protect his seniors."

For Thai, the court also determined him to have the role of a leader and organizer who gave weapons to other defendants and initiated the fight.

Hieu knew there would be chaos that led to a fight but wanted to complete the land measurement and chose to ignore the consequences. However, Hieu did not lead or command others to commit the crime.

According to the verdict, the disputed land was originally reclaimed and farmed by Nguy Van Khieu many years ago.

He sold it to Khuc Van Doai at the price of VND11 billion (US$450,000), but Doai only paid VND1.1 billion and stopped the payments.

Doai then liberally divided the land into smaller plots and sold it to others.

At this point, Khieu hired a lawyer and two others to help him handle the case.

When Khieu’s group came to the land plots to make measurements, they were prevented by Doai and his people.

Khieu’s group then asked Thai, a renowned gangster, to protect the land so that they could complete the survey via an agreement worth VND4 billion.

Thai then invited other gangsters to join him, and it was these men who were ultimately sentenced for the killings.

Security camera footage of a shooting over a land dispute in Phu Quoc Island on October 27, 2022.

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