Man arrested over Vietnam war telepathy claim

October 17, 2006

October 16, 2006

VIETNAMESE police and army officials said today they had arrested a fraudster who claimed to be using telepathic powers to locate the remains of soldiers missing in action since the Vietnam War.


Dang Xuan Ba, identified as a middle-aged man from southern Dalat city, was detained after he charged grieving relatives money for locating what he claimed were the remains of their loved ones. In reality, the remains were animal bones he had planted, they said.

“He confessed to us that he has no telepathic skills for locating the soldiers’ remains,” said a police officer in central Quang Tri province, the scene of heavy wartime fighting during the Vietnam War.

“He had taken at least 15 million dong ($1195) from some families.”

Many Vietnamese troops who fell in Vietnam’s anti-French conflict and what is called here the American War were quickly buried with medicine glass bottles containing pieces of paper with their names and hometowns.

Some 300,000 Vietnamese soldiers remain missing in action from the Vietnam War, and several people claiming to be acting as spiritual mediums have risen to national prominence by helping families locate the remains.

Ba was arrested after he planted bones and papers falsely identifying the remains of Nguyen Huu Dien, who died in battle in 1968, said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Do Xuan Hiep of the Quang Tri army command.

He took relatives to locations he had identified “using his so-called telepathic skills”, and then apparantly planted the bones and bottles so locals could dig them up, Hiep said by telephone.

“He was arrested carrying animal bones and six glass containers with papers carrying the names and hometowns of martyrs,” he said.

Police said they were now checking how many more families Ba had cheated.

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