Sixteen government officials accused of having sex with high school students will not face criminal charges, prosecutors say
Sam Duc Xuong (1st,R), former principal of Viet Lam High School in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, was found guilty by the provincial court in February of having sex with underage students. After a court mandated re-investigation, prosecutors have said 16 senior provincial officials accused of the same offence will not face criminal charges for want of evidence.
Almost a year after a reinvestigation was ordered into an underage sex scandal in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang, a former provincial leader and fifteen other officials face no criminal charges.
In September 2009, police launched an investigation after some parents reported that Sam Duc Xuong, principal of the local Viet Lam High School had forced their daughters to have sex with him.
A trial that opened two months later sentenced Xuong and two school girls with jail terms of tenand-a-half, six, and five years respectively, the former for having sex with underage girls and the latter for procuring schoolmates to have sex with the principal.
The three defendants pleaded not guilty and at a court of appeals in February this year, the two schoolgirls presented a list of 16 government officials who they said had sex with them, prompting the court to order a fresh investigation.
After studying the results of the new investigation, the Ha Giang Prosecutors' Office has decided it will not charge any of the officials listed by the schoolgirls, including Nguyen Truong To, former chairman of the Ha Giang Province People's Committee, the provincial government.
To was dismissed and expelled from the Party in July after police discovered his nude photos saved in the phone of a sex worker in 2005.
Prosecutors said there was "insufficient evidence" against the officials to prove they'd had sex with underage girls despite the details of locations and payments provided by the latter.
Meanwhile, a statement from Ha Giang investigators only said they'd sent "requests to agencies concerned to take action against these officials as per law" [instead of proposing criminal charges].
However, the prosecutors' office has retained charges of "having underage sex" against principal Xuong and "procuring" against the two students, Nguyen Thi Hang and Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy.
New charge sheet
According to the latest charge sheet, Hang was an 11th-grader at Viet Lam High School in 2008 when she was forced by Xuong to have sex with him in his office in exchange for money and good marks.
Xuong paid Hang VND1 million (US$51.3) and told her to find other students for him to have sex with. He promised to pay Hang VND500,000 for procuring and to pay each virgin student between VND3 million and VND4 million. Xuong had sex with Hang a total of six times between July 2008 and May 2009, for which he paid her VND4.1 million in total.
In September 2008, Hang introduced Thuy to Xuong. Xuong also told Thuy to find other students for him. Thuy received VND650,000 from Xuong for having sex with him three times between September 2008 and May 2009.
The charge sheet says Hang procured girls twice and Thuy did so three times. The procured girls were students born between 1992 and 1996.
At the court of first instance in November 2009, Xuong was sentenced to ten and a half years in jail for having underage sex.
Hang and Thuy were sentenced to six years and five years, respectively, for procuring.
In the new charge sheet, prosecutors said that Ha Giang provincial police would conduct another investigation because they have identified several other schoolgirls involved in sex work or procuring but were yet to identify the men they had sex with.
Hang and Thuy had told the court of appeals last February that they had sex with To, former chairman of the Ha Giang People's Committee, and 15 other provincial officials in 2009.
Thuy said that in January 2009, To sent a woman to take her to the Huong Tra Hotel in Vi Xuyen District where she had sex with To and was paid VND500,000.
She also said To had phoned Hang and taken her to Vinh Ha Hotel in Viet Quang Town to have sex with him in August 2009, for which Hang was paid VND1 million.
Hang confirmed this, saying that she'd done it without being forced.
Hang, Thuy and some other students also confessed to having sex with Dinh Xuan Hung, director of the Ha Giang Branch of Vietnam Bank for Social Policies, Hoang Van Minh and Nguyen Trung Tien of the provincial Police Department, teacher Tran Duy Ninh of Viet Lam High School and others.
On December 27, Thuy's mother Nguyen Thi Thom told Thanh Nien that she would lodge her complaints to higher authorities because the renewed investigation and charge sheet was unclear and unconvincing.
"Many people have accused Ha Giang leaders and senior officials of having sex [with the schoolgirls] and it is unreasonable that investigators say they have no evidence," she said.
"I think authorities concerned have shown unconvincing results that [seem to be] hiding criminals."
Thom also said the restrictions were being placed on her meeting with her daughter.
"What surprised me the most is that my daughter has petitioned to refuse a [defense] lawyer. The authorities said my daughter is above 18 years and eligible to submit such an official petition," she said.
"This is against her previous intention. When I asked about it, she cried and said she was forced to do so.... I think this is against her will."
THE CASE FILE
"¢ September 2009: Parents of an eighth grader at Viet Lam Secondary School in the northern mountainous province of Ha Giang send a letter to the local police accusing Sam Duc Xuong, then the school's principal, of raping their daughters.
"¢ September 5, 2009: Nguyen Thi Hang and Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy are detained on suspicion of procuring girls for prostitution.
"¢ September 7, 2009: Sam Duc Xuong is detained for having sex with underage girls.
"¢ November 6, 2009: The Ha Giang Court of First Instance sentences Xuong to ten and a half years, Hang to six years and Thuy to five years.
"¢ February 1, 2010: The Ha Giang Appeals Court, considering three defendants' appeals, annuls the verdict and orders a fresh probe into the case after the girls produce a list of senior officials they'd had sex with.
"¢ November 13: Ha Giang investigators wrapped up investigation into the case.
"¢ December 16: Ha Giang prosecutors' office retain charges against Xuong, Hang and Thuy, but say they lack evidence to prosecute other officials, including the former People's Committee chairman, police officials and another teacher at the same school.