Cops jailed for bribery in central Vietnam

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A court in the central province of Thanh Hoa handed down sentences to two former police officers and a man for receiving VND5 million (US$237.58) in bribes on Friday, VnExpress reported.

Le Hong Duan, 37, and Nguyen Thanh Hai, 27, both former officers of Thanh Hoa's traffic police division, received jail terms of three years and two and half years, respectively, while Nguyen Van Doi, 49, was sentenced to two years in prison. 

They were convicted of demanding and accepting bribes from truck owner Ho Tan Phuong and truck driver Nguyen Xuan Tinh on July 31 last year, the Thanh Hoa People's Court heard.

According to the indictment, that day Duan, then chief of a team tasked with traffic control, ordered his team to set up a checkpoint in front of Doi's house, although they were not assigned to do so.

They signaled Tinh, who was driving a truck carrying wood to Hanoi together with Phuong, to pull over for an inspection.

Prosecutors said Tinh presented documents to the officers along with a VND200,000-note, telling them that they were transporting jackfruit wood.

But, Doi, who was ordered to check the wood by Duan, said that it was rare wood. So, Hai, who was ordered to handle the case by Duan, demanded Phuong and Tinh pay them VND5 million, the news report said.

Phuong then offered to hand over the truck's documents as security for later payment, but he was refused. Instead, he was asked to take a loan from Doi at an interest rate of VND500,000 per day, the news website reported, adding that Doi held onto the truck's documents as security for the loan.

Phuong and Tinh later informed police of the case, which helped free them from charges of "giving bribes."

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Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted the board of judges as telling the hearing that they exempted the truck driver and the truck owner from criminal charges to "encourage people who accidentally commit crimes to expose and cooperate with related agencies to stop corruption."

According to the newspaper, Phuong and Tinh submitted police audio files recording their conversations regarding the bribery with the officers.

The recording was prepared by its then reporter Nguyen Van Khuong, who was recently sentenced to four years in jail for bribery. The journalist, however, has continuously claimed that the bribes were paid as part of an undercover investigation into corruption within the Ho Chi Minh City traffic police.

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