Vietnamese silent during trial for slayings in Germany

10th January 2008, Comments 0 comments

Five Vietnamese men stayed silent on the first day of their new trial for seven murders.

10 January 2008

Stade, Germany (dpa) - Five Vietnamese men stayed silent Wednesday on the first day of their trial in connection with the brutal killing of seven staff at a Chinese restaurant in Germany last year.

It was the second trial for the group - three of whom are charged with murder and two with aggravated robbery.

The previous hearing, which began at the end of August 2007 in the town of Stade, near Hamburg, was halted in December because of the illness of one of the judges.

Defence lawyers said all five would for the time being exercise their legal right to silence.

A flood of defence objections delayed the formal reading of the indictment. Attorneys contended the trial court was not legally constituted, that they had not been given enough time to read police files and that applications for bail had not been answered.

Lawyer Bernhard Docke and colleagues demanded the accused be freed, saying it was very stressful for them to stay in jail.

The hearing ended after two hours, when a lawyer said he was too ill to continue.

The court is to rule on the legal objections later.

The original trial made slow progress. The police case is based mainly on forensic evidence and the defence fought every step of the way.

Lawyers said the defendants had not understood translations by a team of court-paid Vietnamese interpreters who had attended one of the hearings, because they spoke another Vietnamese dialect.

Seven people were bound and slain in the attack in the nearby country town of Sittensen, after the Lin Yue restaurant closed late on February 4.

Five staff from Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Hong Kong were tied up and shot along with popular local restaurant owner Danny Wing Hong Fan, 32, and his 28-year-old wife, both British citizens. Only their baby survived.

Police say three Vietnamese entered the restaurant to steal valuables at gunpoint and may have killed the workers in panic. The other two defendants were part of the plot, police say.

The Vietnamese have denied to police that they were the killers.

At trial, lawyer Armin von Doellen ridiculed the charges, saying they failed to specify which of the accused fired the gun.

Prosecutor Johannes Kiers retorted, "It's obvious that where there is one gun, three people would not have each had a finger on the trigger. They are co-accused in a joint act."

The trial is expected to last until at least June, with 52 dates set for hearings. Supplementary judges have been appointed this time to step in in case any of the bench becomes disabled by illness.

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