Vietnamese pair gets life for German restaurant bloodbath

14th May 2009, Comments 0 comments

The two men tied up and shot the restaurant workers following a botched armed robbery, a court in the northern town of Stade said, after a marathon trial lasting over a year.

Stade -- Two Vietnamese brothers were sentenced to life behind bars on Wednesday for the brutal murder of seven staff at a Chinese restaurant in a small German town in 2007.

Phong Dao Cao, 31, and Trong Duong Dao, 35, tied up and shot the restaurant workers following a botched armed robbery, a court in the northern town of Stade said, after a marathon trial lasting over a year.

Three other Vietnamese defendants received jail sentences of varying lengths for aggravated armed robbery and incitement to murder, the court said.

In a massacre that shocked the country, the robbers opened fire at the Lin Yue restaurant in the quiet town of Sittensen in February 2007 after Phong Dao Cao's mask slipped, revealing his identity.

The owners of the restaurant -- Hong Kong Chinese couple Danny Wing Hong Fan, 32, and his 28-year-old wife Annie, who both had British passports -- and five Asian employees were found tied up, beaten and shot in the restaurant.

Six of the victims -- three men and three women -- died at the scene while another man succumbed to his gunshot wounds the next day.

Only the two-year daughter of the owners survived the carnage. She was found unharmed, surrounded by the bloody corpses.

Among the victims were a waitress of Malaysian origin, a Thai man, a 57-year-old chef from Hong Kong and two Vietnamese who worked in the restaurant -- a 38-year-old waitress and a 32-year-old kitchen hand.

The husband of one of the waitresses discovered the grisly scene at the restaurant when he went to pick up his wife after her shift in the early hours of February 5, only to find her body lying in the blood-splattered room.

The trial, which began in August 2007, was delayed first by defence lawyer claims that the defendants had not understood their Vietnamese interpreters, then by one of the judges falling seriously ill, necessitating a new trial.

In a dramatic twist last week, the five men last week changed their plea to guilty.

One defendant -- 33-year-old Van Hiep Vu -- was sentenced to 14 years in jail for aggravated robbery and incitement to murder.

Another, Quoc Thanh Nguyen, a former employee who provided vital inside information for the crime, received a five-year sentence.

The third man, Van Phuong Vu, who is thought to have driven the getaway car, was sent down for four years and nine months.

Speculation after the shootings focused on whether it was a settling of scores within the Chinese mafia.

But investigators believed the Vietnamese men had in fact planned an armed robbery before it took a tragic turn.

Josef Harnischmacher/AFP/Expatica

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