Vietnamese journalist dies after fire attack

30 January 2011

Human rights groups are often critical of Vietnam's freedom of speech record

A Vietnamese journalist who was set on fire as he slept has died of his injuries.

Le Hoang Hung died 10 days after an intruder broke into his home, doused him with chemicals and set him on fire.

Colleagues think the motive may be revenge for his high-profile reporting.

Observers say while advocates of free speech cite the communist state as an especially hard place to be a journalist, the attack is unprecedented.

Describing the incident at the time of the attack, Vietnam’s Dantri.com quoted his wife, Tran Thi Thuy Lieu, as saying: “The whole family was sleeping, and all of a sudden I heard my husband screaming [from the other room].”

“Just then, he smashed through the door with his body fully engulfed in flames. We rushed to get water to throw on him in an attempt to put out the fire.”

According to local media, Le Hoang Hung – who reported for The Worker newspaper for many years – suffered 40-50% burns.

In one of his most recent reports, the 50-year-old journalist – who covered events in the country’s southern Mekong Delta for many years – had been investigating official misconduct.

The attack took place the evening before he was due to cover a court case in which a local authority in the southern province of Long An is being sued for illegal appropriation of land, BBC South East Asia correspondent Rachel Harvey says.

Source:  BBC

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