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Russian jury acquits those accused of murdering a Vietnamese student

18.10.2006    source:
Yet another jury trial in St Petersburg has ended in acquittals or verdicts quashing charges involving ethnic emnity

In the St Petersburg City Court a jury on 17 October gave a not-guilty verdict on the charge of murdering a Vietnamese student. According to Ria News, five of the accused, charged with murder on ethnic grounds, were fully acquitted.

The jury considered that the guilt of the accused in the murder of the foreign student had not been proven during the court investigation. In addition, with regard to other episodes, the extremism motive for committing the crime was removed from many of the accused.

In all, there were 17 people charged over the case, some of whom, as well as murder, were also accused of several other episodes. According to the jury’s verdict, 8 of them were fully acquitted, and 9 people were found guilty of other crimes.

For example, the jury considered that the guilt of several of the accused in attacks on nationals of Ghana, Azerbaijan,  the Palestinian Autonomy and China had been proven. However the motive of incitement to ethnic enmity was deemed by the jury to have been proven only in the attacks on the Palestinian and the Chinese person. The assaults on the Ghanaian and Azerbaijani were declared to have simply been a street brawl, Interfax reports.

All the accused in the murder of the Vietnamese student were freed in the courtroom.

On Thursday the debate of the parties will be held, during which the state prosecutor will ask for sentences for those found guilty.

According to the preliminary investigation, the murder of the Vietnamese student was a planned action, carried out with extremist motives.

The student, Vu An Tuan, was killed on 13 October 2004 in the Petrogradsky district of the city.

According to material from the investigation, he was attacked by a group of adolescents who were in a state of intoxication. The Vietnamese student received more than 30 piercing wounds which led to his death.

In the given case the Petersburg prosecutor’s office brought 17 people to criminal liability, with 14 facing criminal charges. One of the attackers was declared mentally unfit, and his criminal case was set aside for separate proceedings.

In St Petersburg this is already the third trial this year on cases involving killings on ethnic enmity grounds. In March the jury in the murder of a 9-year-old girl from Tajikistan Khursheda Sultonova found seven of the eight accused guilty of “hooliganism”. The jury considered that the guilt of the main person, accused of murder, had not been proven and acquitted him on that charge. The seven accused were sentenced by the court to deprivation of liberty for periods between 1.5 and 5.5 years.

In July the trial took place of those charged with the murder of a student from the Congo Elasiki Rolando Frais. On that occasion the accused were fully acquitted.

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