Miscarriages of justice in Vietnam are serious: legislators

By Manh Quan, Thanh Nien News

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Nguyen Thanh Chan (C) has made headlines in Vietnam since April 2014 when he had his name cleared after serving 10 years as part of a life sentence for murder. Photo: Ha An Nguyen Thanh Chan (C) has made headlines in Vietnam since April 2014 when he had his name cleared after serving 10 years as part of a life sentence for murder. Photo: Ha An

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At least 71 people were wrongfully charged or convicted in Vietnam from October 2011 to September 2014, according to new data released by the National Assembly's judicial committee.
“These people were mostly accused or convicted in murder, robbery and child rape cases, or economic cases in which wrong judicial decisions were made,” Nguyen Van Hien, chairman of the committee, told other legislators during a session on Friday. 
Investigators dropped 31 of the cases after finding that the suspects were innocent. In 12 other cases, they failed to find evidence to support the charges within the given time frame. 
Prosecutors dropped nine cases themselves and appeal courts overturned criminal verdicts against 19 convicts.
The National Assembly’s Standing Committee said in a report that these cases, and some other cases still under review, showed that miscarriages of justice still happened and were serious. 
The cases have negative consequences for the people involved, but they also caused public frustration and undermined the trust in justice and judicial agencies, the report said. 
It singled out a 2013 case in which seven men were wrongfully arrested for murder and robbery in the southern province of Soc Trang. 
Lenient punishment
Hien said that while many officers responsible for these cases have been disciplined or convicted, some others were not punished "strictly enough."
“In many cases, the violators were simply reassigned or given an early retirement. The punishments have been too lenient,” he said.
“Besides, they are not held responsible for the compensation that governmental agencies have to pay the victims.”
Legislators on Friday were also informed that there had been 78 cases of suicide in custody in the three year period.
A report from the Ministry of Public Security found that 226 detainees died around the country from October 2011 to September 2014.
At a meeting of the Standing Committee in March, Hien had expressed his disbelief in the finding that many people in custody died from illnesses or committed suicide.
He pointed out that holding cells have very low windows and no elevated spots.
“Is there really any chance that detainees could hang themselves just sitting?”

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