Mr. Luong Huu Phuoc (55 years old, a resident in Dong Xoai city, Binh Phuoc province) died in the yard of the province’s People’s Court’s headquarters on the morning of May 29 after the court upheld his prison sentence in a traffic accident in which his friend was killed.
According to Tuoi Tre newspaper, Mr. Phuoc died at the courthouse after he jumped from the second floor, few hours after the court upheld his three-year sentence. The Binh Phuoc province’s People’s Court has confirmed that Mr. Phuoc jumped from a building of its headquarters.
Earlier, Mr. Phuoc left a message on his personal Facebook: “If my death awakens the justice of Binh Phuoc province, it is worth.”
How did the incident happen?
The trial of Mr. Phuoc originated from an incident that occurred three years ago.
In January 2017, Mr. Luong Huu Phuoc, after drinking at his friend’s house, went home. On the way, Mr. Phuoc met Mr. Tran Huu Quy. Mr. Quy invited Mr. Phuoc to go to karaoke.
Mr. Phuoc agreed and took Mr. Quy to Mr. Quy’s house by his motorbike to get a helmet for the latter’s.
When approaching Mr. Quy’s house, Mr. Phuoc stopped his vehicle on the right side of the road to let Mr. Quy go inside to get a helmet but Mr. Quy did not get off.
Therefore, Mr. Phuoc drove Mr. Quy to cross the road. When they got to the other side of the road, Mr. Phuoc’s motorbike was hit by Mr. Lam Tuoi’s motorbike which ran in the wrong direction. Both Mr. Phuoc and Mr. Quy were injured. On January 17, 2017 Mr. Quy died due to the injury. Both Phuoc and Tuoi had high blood alcohol levels.
On March 29, 2018, Dong Xoai People’s Court hepd the first-instance hearing of the case and sentenced Mr. Phuoc to 3 years of imprisonment for violating the traffic regulations. Mr. Phuoc appealed.
On October 9, 2018, Binh Phuoc People’s Court held the first appeal hearing. It rejected the judgement of the first-instance hearing and demanded for re-investigation, pointing out 11 errors in the investigation of evidence gathering, serious violations of legal proceedings (statements of defendants and witnesses with conflicting views; minutes of vehicle examination related to traffic accidents do not show the position of the light switch, do not specify the status of the electric ignition of the vehicle in the open position or Turn off; Investigation results and first instance judgment determine the defendant to turn off the lights but not enough grounds ….).
On December 6, 2019, Dong Xoai People’s Court held the second first-instance hearing, holding its judgment. Mr. Phuoc still complained that the death of Mr. Quy was not caused by him and asked to be pleaded not guilty.
On May 29, 2020, Binh Phuoc court held the appeal hearing and rejected Mr. Phuoc’s appeal and upheld the sentence given by the first-instance hearing.
Then until the afternoon of May 29, Phuoc brought a bottle of pesticide to the court to drink and jumped from the second floor to the court’s yard.
What did the Binh Phuoc province’s People Court say?
One day after the incident, on May 30, Binh Phuoc province held a press conference. In the meeting, a representative from the court affirmed that the first-instance and appeal hearings were completely impartial and objective, and based on the principle of respecting evidence.
Reportedly, the Panel of the appeal includes: Judge Le Hong Hanh (chair); Judge Le Viet Hoa and Judge Pham Tien Hiep, head of the Supervision Division of Binh Phuoc People’s Court.
Coincidentally, judge Le Viet Hoa also participated in the appeal hearing of a civil case over a land dispute, after which the defendant used a knife to commit suicide.
Mr. Hoa was the one who was sitting in the appeal hearing on the dispute over 39.5 m2 of land. After the hearing, Mr. Vo Chanh killed himself.
Vo Chanh’s wife later also threatened to commit suicide following her husband when the Department of Civil Judgment Execution enforced the court’s decision. In the end, the sentence made by judge Le Viet Hoa was canceled for a further investigation. However, Vo Chanh died 5 years ago.
Specifically, at the land use right dispute between plaintiff Le Quang Dinh (born in 1963) and defendant Vo Chanh (born in 1968) and his wife Dao Thi Xuan (born in 1967, living in Tan Binh ward, Dong Xoai City). In this case, Mr. Dinh sued for 39.5 m2 of land under control of Mr. Chanh’s family.
On September 25, 2014, Dong Xoai People’s Court brought the case to trial, declaring Mr. Chanh and his wife to give back the land parcel to Dinh while Mr. Dinh and his wife have to return VND10 million dong to Mr. Chanh and his wife. In addition, Mr. Chanh and his wife were required to pay a fee of VND7.5 million. Mr. Chanh and his wife appealed.
On July 21, 2015, the People’s Court of Binh Phuoc held the appeal hearing. The hearing panel consisted of 3 judges named Hoang Minh Thinh, Le Viet Hoa and Nguyen Van Khuong who rejected the appeal of Mr. Chanh and upheld the first instance judgment.
Too frustrated, at 5 am on July 26, 2015, Mr. Chanh moved to Mr. Dinh’s house. Here the two sides quarreled and scrambled. Then Mr. Chanh collapsed on the pool of blood. Investigation authorities determined Mr. Chanh died by a knife, he … stabbed himself!
After that, Dong Xoai THADS Department enforced the sentence, Xuan said she would kill herself like her husband because there was no other place to live. Besides, the local people responded that both the first instance and the appeal heading the judges were not objective, not true to the land use of the plaintiff and defendant …
Recently, according to the Kinh tế & Đô thị (Economic & Urban) newspaper, on December 21, 2019, the High Court of Ho Chi Minh City decided to cancel the appeal judgment No. 49/2015 on July 21, 2015 of the People’s Court of Binh Phuoc province and the first instance verdict No. 31/2014 dated September 25, 2014 of the People’s Court of Dong Xoai, asking the Dong Xoai Court to hold the second trial.
But, Mr. Võ Chánh is dead. The judge who heard the case of Mr. Chanh was sitting in another Panel again this morning, and the convicted committed sucide again, this time not by a knife, but jumping from the second floor.
The case of Mr. Phuoc’s suicide in court after petitioning has caused a stir in public opinion in Vietnam. On the morning of May 30, social networks filled with images, information and comments about the incident.
Lawyer Le Ngoc Luan: “How many more people will die to wake up the judicial conscience?”
“As a lawyer, having experienced and witnessed many unjust, bitter, but honest fates, the image of Mr. Phuoc lying on his side, dying without closing his eyes in the court yard made me obsessed and in pain.”
“In court, that is the place where many people wait, hoping for a just and honest judgment. But, in that place, they choose to take a belly-cut knife (Can Tho), drink a dead poison (Ninh Thuan), jumping from the 2nd floor (Bình Phước) … in order to prove their unjustness and chastity.”
“Lawyers like us here, holding the law but still being harassed, sometimes have to endure just for helping our clients. If it is a civil case, too hard, at least 3 years, 5 years, long then 15, 18 years … sometimes after death the descendants are still not done.”
“In criminal cases, lawyers defending their clients, pleading like anyone resenting heaven and earth, but the part of the deliberation, they retreated to sit for a while for a so-called ‘deliberation,’ then read out the sentences emotionless.”
“So the ordinary people can only cut their stomachs, take poison and jump upstairs. Is the justice awakened? No, never!”
“Only when the judges are truly independent and they have the right to judge with integrity and conscience not intervened violently.”
“By writing this, I believe that the real judges, the people who are sympathetic and painful when witnessing the traumatic image of their people. Surely they will not be able to sleep and obsess like us. But how many people are thinking?”
“My words are an incent I want to send to Mr. Luong Huu Phuoc – a man unhappy and suffering in the earthly world,” lawyer Le Ngoc Luan expressed his feelings.
Lawyer Phung Thanh Son said: “Achievement obsession and judicial reporting system of the court branch are killing justice.”
Lawyer Dang Dinh Manh commented: “It is painful, but regret for Mr. Luong Huu Phuoc to think that his death will be enough ‘to awaken the judiciary’.”
Facebooker Dao Tuan wrote: “Despair has no face at all.”
“There was once a girl. And she was raped and killed. The father was so shocked that he had to leave home to goto Binh Phuoc, and his family bought a few acres of land but then they were again robbed. When he was married, he became a man without property. Later, they divorced. Then 3 years ago, he took a friend home with him and involved in a traffic accident in which his friend died and he was sentenced to three years in prison. During the last 3 years he cried out injustice, even the Lunar New Year festival he did not dare to go to anyone’s house because of the fear of the crime of bringing the bad luck to relatives and friends. That is the situation of defendant Luong Huu Phuoc, who just jumped at the Binh Phuoc court yesterday afternoon.”
“There is a saying one door closes and another opens. But looking at Mr. Phuoc’s life, he saw only sad things. He was not blessed … And like Ho Duy Hai, this case had 11 wrong points in the proceedings, so wrong that the trial was canceled for re-investigation, but the sentence was still imprisoned for 3 years. In the final status, the man unhappy looking for his death to awaken the Binh Phuoc justice.”
“But, just now, Binh Phuoc press conference affirmed: The trials and appeal hearings in the case were completely impartial and objective and based on the principle of respecting evidence to make a judgment.”
“As I did not read the case file, I cannot say injustice or not, only see in there despair and distress.”
“When people commit suicide, they do not regret even their life, it means that they no longer believe in anything, nothing keep them in this life.”