A Vietnamese expat was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a Doha court yesterday for murdering a Syrian man who was trying to stop him from stealing a safe.
Ho Boo Trung, now 28, was found guilty of stabbing Marwan Hakam al-Dirawi once in the stomach in July 2008 after the victim saw him walking down a road with a stolen safe and asked about it.
Five accomplices, also Vietnamese, were given jail terms of five years in connection with the incident, and a seventh man was given a six-month sentence.
However, all have been in jail since 2008, so the six men are expected to be released and deported after Eid for time served, a legal consultant on the case said. It is unclear if any of them would be entitled to compensation for the long detention, given the outcome of the case.
The defendants’ names are:
- Trinh Tien Minh, 28;
- Pam Van Huan, 32;
- Diong Tahanah Tihidung, 27;
- Pham Ngoc Son, 40;
- Nguyen Ahn Tuan, 29 and
- Von Van Son, 27.
Trung, who was also ordered to pay QR200,000 in blood money to the victim’s family, will be transferred from a temporary detention center in Al Rayyan to Central Prison to serve the remainder of his sentence.
While under the law, the charge for first-degree murder in Qatar is the death penalty, this can be reduced to a maximum of 15 years in jail if the court changes the charge from murder to a less one, such as manslaughter. Additionally, a victim’s family can accept blood money and agree to the reduced sentence.
A combination of the two may have been at play in this case, the legal source said.
Night of the attack
According to prosecution documents seen by Doha News, Trung and some of his friends had been eating and drinking at a friend’s house in the Industrial Area on the night of July 3, 2008, then went for a walk.
The men testified that they made a spur-of-the-moment decision to rob Al-Shahwani Fire Protection Company. Using a screw, Huan broke into the building, while Trung, Minh and Tuan found the safe.
Unable to move it, they called on the remaining accomplices for help.
The seven men, plus an unnamed eighth man who was not on trial, removed the safe and were carrying it down the road when they were spotted and stopped by al-Dirawi, who was driving by at the time with two friends.
Al-Dirawi, who was around 21 at the time of the attack, challenged the group, asking them about the safe and where they got it from.
The men claim that they spotted one of al-Dirawi’s friends carrying a knife, although he didn’t use it. In fear, most of the men fled, but Trung ran to a friend’s house to get a knife for himself.
When he returned, he got in a tussle with al-Dirawi’s friends, and stabbed al-Dirawi once in the stomach.
In a statement, Son said that Trung had attacked al-Dirawi after he threatened to call the police. The victim walked about 10 meters before falling to the ground. He later died.
Trung fled the scene, while his friends returned to retrieve the safe, which they had dumped nearby. There was no money in it, only passports and documents.
Trung was later arrested by police in his house in Umm Salal Mohammad and confessed to the stabbing, saying he was afraid the victim would take the safe from him. He also said he had only wanted to scare al-Dirawi, not to kill him.
According to the legal documents, Trung, Minh, Huan and Tuan had also tried to break in to another office earlier in the same night, but couldn’t get in.
All seven defendants, who are blue-collar workers, were charged under the penal code, Law 11 of 2004, and Law 14 of 1999 on ammunition, weapons and explosives. The charges included robbery, breaking and entering and carrying unlicensed weapons (including the knife).
The Vietnamese men, who appeared in court in non-prison attire, looked relieved when their sentences were handed down. There was no translator in court, although it is believed the men speak some Arabic.
It is understood that at least some of the convicted men converted to Islam while in prison. According to the legal source, a Qatari man has offered to pay the blood money owed in the case of the defendants as part of an effort to help Muslim prisoners.
Trung has the right to appeal his sentence, although it is unknown if he will.