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Another gangland killing in Melbourne -

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TONY EASTLEY: It wasn't that long ago that Melbournians were reading regularly about the city's
bloody underworld killings.

Now alleged drug gangs, with suspected links to Asia, have brought grizzly tales back to the fore.

A suppression order has been lifted that allows AM to reveal that 10 days ago the star witness in a
murder trial was himself shot dead in an execution-style killing, just one day after giving

Police insist there's no proof the killing is linked to the court case, but the events have raised
fresh questions about the adequacy of the protection offered to witnesses in organised crime cases.

Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: Just one day after he gave crucial evidence at the murder trial for an alleged drug
dealer, Thang Nguyen was shot dead at home in front of his wife as he apparently begged for his

The 46-year-old had told police he didn't want to give evidence in court for fear of revenge

Victoria's Opposition police spokesman Andrew McIntosh says the system has clearly failed.

ANDREW MCINTOSH: It begs the question, should this man have been protected, given the fact that it
is suggested that he informed Victoria Police that he was concerned about giving evidence.

JANE COWAN: The trial was for the murder of alleged heroin dealer Son Van Duong, who was found dead
in a paddock in western Melbourne early last year.

In that murder, he'd been propped up against a wall with his hands tied behind his back.

He'd been shot in the head and one of his fingers was severed.

Andrew McIntosh says police managed to bring witnesses through the court system without incident in
the trials of gangland figures like the recently sentenced Carl Williams. But he says in the case
of Thang Nguyen something has gone wrong.

ANDREW MCINTOSH: That's the thing that concerns me, is that while it has worked very effectively,
modern policing isn't just about one particular gang. This seems to be another gang and it begs the
question, should he have been on witness protection? And if he wasn't, why not?

JANE COWAN: Criminologist Colleen Lewis from Monash University says it's not that simple.

COLLEEN LEWIS: There is a big difference between someone saying to a police officer, look I feel I
might be in danger if I give evidence, to actually saying I won't give evidence unless I'm out into
witness protection. And what we don't know is exactly what went on between this witness and the

JANE COWAN: If a witness expresses fear of revenge attacks if he does give evidence, how incumbent
is it upon police to protect him even if he doesn't formally request that protection?

COLLEEN LEWIS: Look it's very difficult. Some people just simply refuse protection and the police
can't sort of, you know, go into their house and sit with the, without their permission, things
like that, to protect them.

So they, they may be able to do covert surveillance from the outside, but overwhelmingly they are
not protecting law abiding citizens, they're actually protecting criminals.

JANE COWAN: Neither the Police nor Victoria's Police Minister would speak to AM.

A spokesman for the Minister Bob Cameron said it would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing

Police criticised the Opposition for commenting without seeking a briefing and said there was no
evidence linking Thang Nguyen's death to the court case.

TONY EASTELY: Jane Cowan reporting.