The St. Petersburg City Court on Thursday continued the trial of nine of the 17 young men acquitted two days ago of murdering Vietnamese student Vu Anh Tuan in 2004.
Vietnamese students demonstrate in St.Petersburg after the murder of Vu Anh Tuan (Photo: Vesti)
The nine defendants were found guilty of other crimes, including the inciting of ethnic strife, and five episodes of attacks on foreigners. They will be sentenced later.
The prosecution is still deciding whether to appeal against the jury's controversial verdict, which drew conflicting statements from the legal profession.
Communist lawmaker Mahmud Mahmudov wants to see an end to the current judgement system altogether in Russia."The more trials involving extremism or xenophobia we have, the more obvious it is that nationalists, regardless of their nationality, will get away with it. It's not the first case, and it certainly doesn't give prestige to our state," Mahudov said on Wednesday.
It was the third ethnic murder trial in St. Petersburg this year. In the two previous trials – for the killing in March of a nine-year old Tajik girl, Khursheda Sultonova, and the murder in July of Roland Eposeka, a Congolese student, the jury did not agree with the investigators that they were cases of extremism and so delivered a milder verdict against the defendants in the first case and fully acquitted the defendants in the second.
A Vietnamese counselor in Russia, Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Binh, said on Thursday that the Vietnamese Embassy was meeting with representatives of the Russian Foreign Ministry to discuss the case.
However, the decision was made by the jury, and it’s not the final judgment so “we will have to wait and see” and perhaps take it to a higher authority if need be, Binh said.
|Answering local and foreign reporters’ questions about Viet Nam's reaction to the not-guilty verdict, Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Le Dzung had this to say: |
“We find it very regretful that the killers of Vu Anh Tuan have not been identified and severely punished. The barbaric murder on October 13, 2004 in Saint Petersburg was an extremely serious crime, arousing emotion in the public in both Viet Nam and the Federation of Russia and running counter to the excellent traditional relations between the peoples of Viet Nam and Russia.
In our opinion, the case should be subjected to a thorough investigation and serious trial, and the culprits should be strictly punished in accordance with Russian law and the wish of the broad public.
Viet Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a note to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Hanoi asking law-enforcement agencies in Saint Petersburg in particular and in all of Russia in general to promptly investigate the case and identify the murderers.
Besides, Viet Nam requests Russia’s competent agencies to take urgent and effective measures to ensure the safety of the Vietnamese community in Russia in general and the Vietnamese students there in particular”.