Le Van Manh’s case - Dân Làm Báo

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Le Van Manh’s case

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I. Personal Information and Procedural History:

Name: Le Van Manh
Date of Birth: 25 December, 1982
Hometown: Thanh Hoa Province
Address: Village 4, Yen Thinh Ward, Yen Dinh District, Thanh Hoa Province
Occupation: Laborer

Family background:
Father: Le Van Chinh
Mother: Nguyen Thi Viet
Wife: Nguyen Thi Thanh Binh
Children: Le Van, son (born in 2004), and daughter, Le Thinh Ha (born in 2005)

The Trials, Appeals and Execution Notice:
Arrest Date: 20 April, 2005 at home (address as listed above)
Charges: 1) Murder, 2) Child rape, 3) Robbery
Conviction Date: 29 July, 2005
Sentence: The People Court of Thanh Hoa Province sentenced Manh to death after he was convicted of all three charges
Appeal Date: 27 October, 2005

Appeal Judgment: The Appellate Jurisdiction of the People Supreme Court in Hanoi overturned the conviction of the murder and child rape charges, remanded the case back to the People Court of Thanh Hoa Province for re-investigation.

Second trial: On 13 March, 2006, Manh was convicted of murder and robbery at his second trial by the People Court of Thanh Hoa Province. Manh again was sentenced to death.

Second appeal: On 26 July, 2006, the Appellate Jurisdiction of the People’s Supreme Court in Hanoi affirmed Manh’s conviction as well as his death sentence.

Second remand: On 23 April, 2007, the President of the People’s Supreme Procuracy Office objected and overruled Manh’s two previous convictions and remanded the case to the People Supreme Procuracy Office for re-investigation.

Cassation’s Conclusion: On 04 June, 2007, the Council of Judges of the Supreme People's Supreme Court began the cassation process and overturned Manh’s previous two convictions, including the result of the last appellate decision on 26 July, 2007.

Third Trial: On 29 July, 2008, another trial held by the People Court of Thanh Hoa Province convicted Manh of murder and child rape and again sentenced him to death.

Third Appeal: On 25 November 2008, the Appellate Jurisdiction of the People Supreme Court in Hanoi affirmed Manh’s conviction as well as his death sentence.

Notice of Execution Date: On 16 October, 2015, the People Court of Thanh Hoa Province notified Manh’s family in writing of his execution date so that they could petition the authority to allow the return of his body to the family for burial. The last date to petition for his body is 26 October 2015, which is also the date of his execution.

II. Factual Background:

The Murder:
On 21 March 2005, Hoang Thi Loan, a woman, whose date of birth was 15 August 1991, was raped and murdered in Yen Thinh Ward, Yen Dinh District, Thanh Hoa Province. Accordingly, the victim, Loan, went to the bank of the Cau Chay river within the Yen Thinh Ward, to use the bathroom therein. By nightfall, her family realized that she has disappeared. The family organized a search for her then, but she could not be found. By 13:00 on 22 March, 2005, Loan’s body turned up at the bank of Cau Chay river within Xuan Minh Ward, Tho Xuan District, also in Thanh Hoa Province.

The Autopsy:
The autopsy of Loan concluded the followings:
- Contusions around the eyebrow and right eyelid
- Strangled marks determined to have been caused by victim’s own shirt
- Scratched armpits
- Damaged genital area, which also contained clammy substance
- Damaged and contused perineum
- Broken hymen
- Torn skins in the head

Further Conclusions, Factual and Procedural Background:
Moreover, the Criminal Science Institute of the Department of Police concluded that the victim’s vagina fluid contained a small amount of sperms. (BL 147).

On 30 March 2005, the Thanh Hoa Province’s Forensics Office concluded that Hoang Thi Loan died from strangulation with signs of water asphyxia, and that the victim was raped before she was killed. (BL-145-146).

On 20 April 2005, Le Van Manh was arrested pursuant to the temporary arrest warrant number 01 dated 14 April 2005 issued by the investigative police unit of Dong Nai Province on a suspected robbery charge and attempting to flee criminal custody.

On 23 April, 2005, a confession letter claimed to have been written by Le Van Manh to his father from his prison’s cell surfaced, admitting to the crimes. The police confiscated this letter as evidence of his guilt.

From 2005-2008, Le Van Manh has undergone a total of 7 court hearings, including 3 trials, 3 appeals and 1 cassation. In all of his court hearings, Manh vehemently denied all of the charges and retracted his earlier confessions, alleging that he was brutally beaten by both the police officers investigating his case as well as his cellmates.

On 16 October, 2015, Manh’s family received written notice from the People Court of Thanh Hoa Province regarding the procedures relating to his execution.

III. Procedural Errors:

During both the investigation and the criminal proceeding, the following errors are believed to have been committed against Manh:

- No DNA sample was taken from the sperms found inside victim’s vagina.

- A child witness’ testimony was taken without his/her legal guardians/parents.

- There were no other independent evidence besides the suspect’s own confession.

- The time of death as stated in the investigation report of the crime scene and the forensics report does not match the evidence introduced at trial.

- The defendant objected to the defense lawyer assigned to him by the court, but the trial to proceed.

- No scientific evidence, such as fingerprints, DNA sample, etc. was collected at the scene to determine the suspect.

- There seems to be coercion and deceptive interrogation committed by the police during the investigation.

- There is no transcript of the defense lawyer’s argument during trials.

- The pair of shorts which was placed into evidence after it was found by the police in a bush, was testified by other witnesses as the same pair.

Manh has worn during the search for Loan's body on the 22nd of March. That pair of short was torn during the search, so Manh took it off and threw it away in front of many witnesses.

IV. Case Inconsistencies In The Criminal Complaint:

The criminal complaint by the People Procuracy Office contains numerous factual inconsistencies:

- Whether Manh’s family’s water buffalo was lost or not. If it was lost, then who went out to look for it and who ultimately found it?

- The illogical detail of Manh took down the victim’s pants twice.

- Whether the 9 year old girl, Le, was able to see anything in the backyard if she was cooking in the kitchen and could not see the backyard at the same time.

- The reenactment of elementary students walking at 1,389m/s was an impossibility.

- The confession letter by Manh was used to convict him, but his other letters, declaring his innocence, were not allowed to be introduced as evidence at trial.

- Manh’s younger brother, Le Van Cuong, was also arrest as his co-conspirator, but later was coerced to confess that he committed the crime of extortion. Le Van Cuong was convicted of extortion and sentenced to 9 months in jail.
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