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Vietnam executes man despite pleas to spare his life

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Hanoi—Vietnam has executed long-time death row prisoner Le Van Manh, a lawyer confirmed Saturday, despite international pleas to spare his life.

In 2005 Manh was charged with robbery, as well as the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl in the northern Thanh Hoa province.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said police obtained a confession through torture that was relied upon to convict him.

Manh later retracted the confession, saying that police had beaten him severely.

The Supreme Court in Hanoi handed down the death penalty at an appeal trial in 2008.

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Hanoi lawyer Nguyen Ha Luan, who helped Manh’s family petition the Vietnamese president to halt the execution, posted his death certificate on social media Saturday.

“According to reports and official letters, defendant Le Van Manh was executed… the (execution) notice letter has been sent to the family,” he said on Facebook.

The death certificate stated: “Le Van Manh born in 1982. Nationality: Vietnamese. Died at 08:45 on September 22, 2023, at execution house of Hoa Binh provincial police.”

His body was buried at Cho Nhang cemetery, the lawyer said, citing official documents sent to Manh’s family. AFP

Earlier this week, the diplomatic missions of the European Union, Canada, Norway and the United Kingdom in Vietnam urged authorities to show Manh mercy.

“We strongly oppose the use of capital punishment at all times and in all circumstances, which is a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and can never be justified, and advocate for Vietnam to adopt a moratorium on all executions,” the joint statement said.

Amnesty International called the execution “sickening”.

“Despite knowing in detail that Le Van Manh’s case was mired in serious irregularities and violations of the right to a fair trial… authorities in Vietnam executed him anyway mere days after informing his family to make arrangements for his remains,” Chiara Sangiorgio, Amnesty’s death penalty expert, said Saturday.

The ICJ said Manh’s execution “is a violation of his right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment under international human rights law”.

“Vietnam must join the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and the establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty,” the ICJ’s spokesman said.

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for Asia,  said Manh’s execution was “a striking example of everything that is wrong with the Vietnamese judicial system”.

“The Vietnamese government should immediately commute all death penalty sentences to stop these miscarriages of justice,” he said.  AFP

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