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Diem Official Sentenced to Death in Vietnam

Mar. 28, 1964 - A top intelligence officer was sentence today to death for crimes he committed while he served the regime of the late President Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam.

In the first of what may be a long series of trials of former Diem associates, a revolutionary tribunal convicted Phan Quang Dong (pictured in 1956), 36, of murder, extortion, and illegal detention and torture of prisoners.

Next to be tried may be Ngo Dinh Can, brother of the slain President. He is the former ruler of the central Vietnamese provinces. The Diem Government was overthrown last Nov. 2, and the President and his brother and No. 2 man, Ngo Dinh Nhu, were assassinated.

A crowd of 2,000 outside the provincial courthouse in Hue threw their hats into the air and cheered as they heard the verdict and sentence over a loudspeaker. They had gathered outside the building during the three-day trial to hear the proceedings.

The nine-man tribunal deliberated an hour before returning the verdict. Dong asked for mercy. He said he had felt ashamed during the trial. If his plea is rejected, he will be beheaded after five days.

He was convicted of torturing and murdering Tran Ba Nam, a private contractor, in 1958, and Vo Con, a former deputy security chief in central Vietnam, in 1959. They had been accused by the Diem regime of being French spies, and their deaths were listed as suicides.

More than 20 prosecution witnesses testified Dong had extorted $110,000 from them. His defense was that he had been following orders and that any money obtained was turned over to the Diem regime.


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