LE VAN LUYEN - JEWELRY SHOP ROBBERY WITH 3 CASUALTIES is probably one of the most infamous killers of Vietnam in recent history. In the early hours of 24th August 2011, at only 17 years old, Luyện brutally butchered the entire family of a jewelry shop owner in the northern province of Bắc Giang during a burglary-turned-robbery attempt. In his wake, Luyện left behind 3 dead bodies, including the shop owner, his wife, and his 18-month-old daughter. The owner’s eldest daughter – then 8 years old – was the sole survivor, though her right hand was severed during the struggle. Luyện’s display of ruthlessness – not even sparing a toddler – sparked massive public outrage, with many people demanding his execution. However, as he was still a juvenile at the time, the court deemed it just to give him an 18-year jail sentence instead.

The case, as confessed by Luyen, took place as follows: "Because he deposited the borrowed motorbike for money and spent it all, Luyen did not have any left to take back the motorbike. This was the motivation for Le Van Luyen to rob the jewelry. On early morning of 24th August 2011, when it was still dark, Luyen hid himself from the jewelry from a short distance. The instrument for his crime was a sharp knife and a stabbing knife. After finding nothing on the third floor with the flashlight, Luyen went down to second floor. Thinking that the gold and jewelry were kept on the second floor, he cut off electricity and camera. At about 5:30 am, when he saw the host go to the third floor to hang the clothes, Luyen stabbed him with the sharp knife. The host was injured but he tried to grab back the weapon and shouted for help. His wife heard the shouting, running to the third floor and was stabbed by Luyen several times. The host then managed to take the sharp knife but Luyen used the stabbing knife to stab him and he felt down the stairs to the second floor. Luyen ran after him and continued to chopped him until he became unconscious. Ngoc Bich, the older daughter of the family, who was wakened up by her parents’ shouting, found the phone for help. Afraid of being caught, Le Van Luyen chopped off her hand and stabbed her several times. Thinking that Ngoc Bich was dead, he ran away. The second child of the family, who was 18 months old (Thao), cried out and was killed by Luyen with the stabbing knife. After that, Luyen grabbed the backpack, put the weapons inside and went down to the first floor. Luyen broke the glass cabinets to take the gold and opened the kitchen door to escape. At the time, the new day had begun and the street was filled with people. Afraid of being discovered, Luyen called his brother to pick him up and fled away. When he ran away, he only had some clothes, cigarettes and 200.000 dong. 4 On 31 August 2011, 6 days after fleeing away, Luyen was caught by the border forces at Thuy Hung, Van Lang, Lang Son province. Luyen intended to run to China but he was caught and taken back to Bac Giang."

This is an especially serious case, which stirred fierce controversy in Vietnam public opinion at the time. From legal perspectives, the case had huge influence on the view of the experts and law-makers in Vietnam about the policies to prevent crime, especially the regulation about death penalty.

When he committed the crime, Le Van Luyen had not reached the age of 18 and according to the Penal Code of Vietnam, the juveniles cannot be sentenced to life imprisonment and death penalty so at the first-instance court, he was only sentenced to 18-year imprisonment. This sentence was in fact more serious than that in the cases with juvenile criminals in Vietnam. In the appeal court, the sentence was remained.