A court in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday sentenced a man to death for killing and injuring five ‘street knights’ during a motorbike theft attempt, while giving his accomplice life imprisonment for his involvement in the crime in May.
Nguyen Tan Tai and his accomplice Nguyen Hoang Chau Phu, both 23, were tried by the municipal People’s Court on Thursday morning.
Tai was given a death penalty for murder, attempted assault, and theft, while Phu was put in prison for life on the same charges.
|Nguyen Hoang Chau Phu at the trial. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
According to the indictment, Tai and Phu scouted along Cach Mang Thang 8 Street in District 3 on the evening of May 13 with the intention to steal a motorbike.
A group of seven ‘street guardians’ then noticed some suspicious signs from the two men and decided to follow them.
‘Street knights’ are normal residents who voluntarily patrol their neighborhoods to detect and catch criminals. As they are not recognized as authorized law enforcement officers, they are not allowed to be armed for their own protection.
|From left: Nguyen Tan Tai, Ngo Van Hung, and Nguyen Hoang Chau Phu. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
At around 8:30 pm that day, the thieves attempted to steal a Honda SH scooter parked in front of a house before being stopped by the ‘street knights.’
After being besieged, Tai pulled out a knife and stabbed some of the vigilantes.
Seeing that Phu was already apprehended by two other ‘street guardians,' Tai rushed to stab them to rescue his accomplice.
|Nguyen Thi O, mother of deceased Nguyen Van Thoi, reacts at the court. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The two thieves then escaped on their motorbike.
Following the rampage, Nguyen Van Thoi, 42, and Nguyen Hoang Nam, 29, were pronounced dead at the scene, while three other were severely injured.
The thieves stayed hidden at the house of Ngo Van Hung, one of Tai’s friends, before being arrested the following evening.
|The fiancée of Nguyen Hoang Nam sits next to his portrait at the trial. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
At the police station, Tai and Phu claimed responsibility for three other motorbike thefts in District 12 and Hoc Mon District from January to March.
Tai previously served one year and six months in jail for theft in 2016. Phu was also slapped with a one-year-and-three-month prison term but his sentence has yet to be executed.
Aside from the two defendants, Hung was sentenced to four years in prison while his wife, Trinh Thi Nhu, received a one-year suspended sentence for concealing a crime.