Villagers in central Vietnam were charged with murder in the beating deaths of two men accused of stealing dogs, authorities said Friday.
Dozens of villagers took part in the beatings Wednesday night in Quang Tri province after two man were discovered allegedly taking the villagers' pets, said Le Quang Cong, deputy chief of the provincial Department of Social Order Crimes Investigation.
"They deserved death because we have lost a lot of dogs in the past but have failed to catch the thieves," said a villager who declined to be named. "Dog thieves are getting more aggressive. We are very angry to see our dogs stolen, and dognappers are rarely arrested."
Local media have reported several cases of dognappers attacking villagers who were trying to prevent their dogs from being taken and sold to restaurants.
"I don't agree with the villagers," said Nguyen Van Loi, spokesman for the provincial Police Department. "Stealing dogs deserves punishing, but ... beating them to death is really excessive."
Dog meat is considered a delicacy in Vietnam. Restaurants specializing in barbecue dog are popular at the end of each lunar month because people believe eating dog meat brings them good luck and dismisses bad luck.
The price of dog meat rose 50 percent last year and 10 percent so far this year because Vietnam does not have enough supply to meet demand.
Cong said Wednesday's deaths of the two men from a neighbouring province remained under investigation so he did not release the names or the exact number of villagers charged.
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