A court in northern Vietnam on Friday sentenced a former district judge to 10 years in jail for taking bribes to rig a case.
Nguyen Duy Hiep, a former judge of the People's Court of Thanh Liem District, Ha Nam Province, was found guilty of receiving VND235 million (US$11,000) to keep a defendant in an embezzlement case out of jail, Vietnam News Agency reported.
Vietnam’s Penal Code sets different jail terms for the conviction depending on the amount of money taken, and Hiep’s is punishable by between 15 to 20 years in jail.
But the court showed leniency to him as he had a record clean of convictions, been sincere during the investigation process and has returned all the money taken.
The court also banned him from holding government or court posts for four years after the prison term is served.
According to the indictment, in June 2014, Hiep was hearing a case against Do Duc Tuan, a former official tasked with compensating residents displaced by the construction of a district road.
Tuan was indicted with colluding with other members of his office to inflate construction costs and pocketed nearly VND25 million ($1,170) from the district budget.
Hiep told Tuan's father Do My Ty that Tuan could be given a suspended sentence if Ty paid him VND235 million.
Hiep received the money but still sentenced the disgraced official to 12 months in jail in June 2008. When Hiep was confronted by Hiep's family, he only returned VND50 million to them, claiming that he had spent the rest bribing other officials at district and provincial agencies.
The family provided police with recordings of Hiep’s illicit negotiations and instructions.
Hiep was arrested on June 30. He was supposed to be officially promoted to the post of the district court's presiding judge the very next day.
By the time he was arrested, Hiep had returned VND185 million of the bribe to his court.
Giving and taking bribes is a crime under Vietnamese law, but the practice has become a common solution to almost every problem--from avoiding red tape, boosting high school test scores to securing million-dollar public contracts and staying out of jail.
The ones giving bribes can avoid criminal responsibility in Vietnam and take back part or all the money if they voluntarily report the act to the authorities.
Two district judges in the northern province of Thanh Hoa were suspended in September after an extortion suspect announced that he’d bribed them to reduce his sentence.