Vietnamese President orders end to wrongful charge, police abuse

By Thai Son, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang (R) at a meeting with the country's top prosecutors in Hanoi July 8, 2014. Photo: Thai Son Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang (R) at a meeting with the country's top prosecutors in Hanoi July 8, 2014. Photo: Thai Son

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President Truong Tan Sang has instructed prosecutors to clean up the justice system by minimizing wrongful charges and strictly punishing police brutality.
Sang told a Tuesday working session in Hanoi with leading officials of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the country’s top prosecution unit, that there have not been many such cases of violating justice procedures going on, but the damage would be huge.
“We’d have around one case at an agency a year, involving one person. But those people are destroying the system and the people’s confidence in the government.”
Quite several cases of people apologize by their authorities years after their wrongful charges have been reported lately, many more since the biggest of its kind came to public knowledge last year.
Nguyen Thanh Chan from the northern province of Bac Giang was released last November after serving ten years into a life sentence for the murder of a local woman that he did not commit.
His wife’s investigation forced the real murderer, another local man, to give himself up last October.
The Supreme Court officially cleared his name in January this year.
But Chan is still filing petitions for compensation and accusation and for investigation against several officers that he claimed had made death threats and beat him during the questioning to force him to plead guilty.
In the latest episode of corporal punishment, a police officer in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak was arrested earlier this month as a suspected thief died of cerebral trauma under his count.
Phu Yen Province in south central Vietnam meanwhile is rehearing a trial on a fatal police brutality case after prosecutors criticized the initial sentences as overly lenient.
Three convicted officers in April were sentenced to between 18 months to 5 years in prison for beating a local man to death while questioning him for his alleged involvement in a burglary in May 2012.
Two other officers were let off with suspended sentences.
During the meeting, President Sang also ordered relevant agencies to retry the officers harshly after the media reported widespread public discontent following the first instance court.
Commenting on reduced number of crimes provided by the prosecutors Tuesday, Sang said the number did not reflect the true picture, that the crimes have become more serious, better-organized and each involved more people.
The prosecutors reported that corruption crimes have reduced more than 10 percent this year, drug crimes 2.6 percent and justice violations 14.7 percent.
“Corruption has reduced in number but one could involve a lot of people, who would turn out to be involve other cases when it come to court,” Sang said.
He refers to the multi-million-dollar graft case committed by Duong Chi Dung, former chairman of state-owned shipping giant Vinalines, and other former executives as a good example.
Duong Chi Dung could not run by himself. So we cannot say that corruption has reduced." -- Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang told the Supreme People’s Procuracy officials at a meeting July 8
The Supreme People’s Court last May upheld death sentences handed to Dung and the former general director Mai Van Phuc after convicting them of embezzling VND10 billion ($474,000) each in the case.
Eight other defendants from the company received up to 22 years in jail.
Dung’s younger brother Duong Tu Trong, 52, deputy chief of Hai Phong Police, has been arrested with six other police officers in the northern port city of Hai Phong for helping Dung escaped the country when the scandal first broke in May 2012. Dung was arrested by Interpol in Cambodia.
“Duong Chi Dung could not run by himself,” Sang said. “We cannot say that corruption has reduced.”
He admitted that crimes have risen due to difficult economic situation, and poor government control.
The President also stressed the need to perfect the legal system in line with the 2013 Constitution, urging the procuracy sector to work with other judicial agencies on draft laws in order to make the law enforcement effective.

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