Prosecutors in Hanoi Friday proposed a new charge carrying shorter jail terms against a former senior transport official in the embezzlement of over VND3.4 billion (US$165,530) in a Japanese-funded bridge project.
The Hanoi People's Procuracy, who is the prosecution authority at the trial that opened Monday, asked to charge Bui Tien Dung, former director of the Ministry of Transport's Project Management Unit 18 (PMU18), with "power abuse", proposing a jail term between 11-12 years.
Previously in its indictment, the People's Supreme Procuracy, Vietnam's highest judicial agency, proposed the charge of embezzlement, which carried a jail term of up to over 20 years, against Dung.
The prosecutors of Hanoi, however, argued that police investigations had failed to clarify a number of details, which made the charge of embezzlement no longer suitable.
Dung, 52, is presently serving a 13-year jail sentence handed down to him in 2007 for gambling and bribery, and a three-year jail term for misusing state-owned cars, costing the state VND2.7 billion ($132,000).
Meanwhile, Hanoi's prosecutors kept charges of embezzlement against seven of Dung's subordinates with proposed jail terms of between four and 17 years.
Do Kim Quy, former Deputy Chief of PMU18, faced a charge of "accepting gifts produced by criminal means," which led to the possible jail term of three to four years. Prosecutors said when Quy retired in May, 2005, Dung gave him VND500 million ($24,342) as a retirement gift.
According to the indictment, Dung and his subordinates falsified documents to reflect work done by non-existent consultants to the Bai Chay Bridge project in the northern province of Quang Ninh.
From August 2003 to February 2007, the ring siphoned off over VND3.4 billion (US$165,530) as salaries for 26 non-existent workers.
However, during the trial which was expected to last ten days, the defendants didn't admit to their crimes or blamed everything on Pham Tien Dung, a former official of PMU18 and who died of diabetes in a detention center in 2009.
The Ministry of Transport and the Project Management Unit 2, which was emerged from the PMU18 and the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam's Project Management Unit 2, meanwhile, didn't claim compensations.
They said they didn't suffer any damages as stated in the indictment, and refused to attend the trial as civic plaintiffs.