Bloody Decapitation Letter: Insult or Threat?

Virginia man faces trial for alleged threat

By LARRY O'DELL
|  Thursday, Dec 3, 2009  |  Updated 3:56 PM EDT
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Bloody Decapitation Letter: Insult or Threat?

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A Virginia man is on trial for allegedly threatening to decapitate a U.S. consular official.  But was the blood-soaked, handwritten letter that referenced the massacre at Virginia Tech a threat, or just an insult?

Phuong Nguyen Le pleaded guilty in February to mailing a threatening communication, but a federal judge in Richmond later
allowed him to withdraw the plea. The case is set for trial Thursday.

Le was angered by the rejection of a visa application for his wife in Vietnam, prosecutors said. He mailed a letter threatening to decapitate U.S. Consular Chief Charles Bennett to Congressman Bobby Scott's office in Richmond. The letter also threatened a massacre worse than the Virginia Tech shootings. It was signed in Le's blood.

The Hill reported that an intern in Scott's office opened the letter, which was addressed to Scott and contained Le's return address.

(The aide) opened a blood-stained letter late last year and notified two aides, according to an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint against Le. Another employee put on a plastic glove, picked up the letter and read it out loud. It was addressed to Scott and contained Le’s return address.

"I am so sick, angry, hate … I want to do some thing [sic] … I readied enclosed letter from Charles Bennet [sic] I’m swear if I see that Motherf---er I’ll cut his head off,” he allegedly wrote in the letter, which was smeared with blood.

Psychiatrist Dr. Paul Leung, an expert in Vietnamese culture, testified the decapitation remark was just an insult in Vietnamese culture -- a way of saying something had to be done to stop Bennett from lying. However, Leung said the reference to the Tech shootings was a threat.

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