Vietnamese receives death sentence for shooting spree in land dispute

By Kh. Uyen, Quoc Thinh   January 3, 2018 | 08:25 pm PT
Vietnamese receives death sentence for shooting spree in land dispute
Dang Van Hien, 42, stands trial on Wednesday for shooting and killing people who were destroying his fields. Photo by VnExpress/Kh. Uyen
Dang Van Hien and accomplices shot and killed three people sent by a company to raze the land he used to grow crops.

A Vietnamese man was sentenced to death on Wednesday for leading a gun fight that killed three members of a company who were destroying his fields.

Dang Van Hien, 42, was convicted of murder, so were his two accomplices Ninh Viet Binh and Ha Van Truong who received 20 and 12 years in jail. Two other men participating in the fight received four and six years for destroying property, and another received nine months in jail for concealing the crime.

According to the indictment, Dak Nong Province in the Central Highlands granted 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) of forest land to a company for a forestry project in 2008.

In June 2013, the company put Nguyen Xuan Thien Suu in charge of the project.

Suu soon got into heated disputes with several families, including Hien’s, who planted cashew and coffee on the project's land.

One day in late October 2016, Suu gathered around 30 workers and guards to bring weapons and machines to raze the plantations.

The angry Hien then fired a series of warning shots with his hunting rifle, only to be stoned by people from the company.

So Hien decided to fire straight into the group, with direct help from Binh and Truong.

The shooting killed three people and injured 13 others. Hien ran away from the province but gave himself up days later.

Families of the defendants left the trial unhappy, believing that the punishment was too harsh.

Land-related grievances remain the main source of concern and protests in Vietnam.

They accounted for 70 percent of all complaints lodged against the government in 2012, according to a parliamentary report. They remain the top reason for complaints by Vietnamese civilians, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a meeting last month.

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