Ex-official files appeals against life sentence in graft case

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A former vice director of Ho Chi Minh City's Department of Transportation Friday lodged an appeal against the life sentence handed down to him this month for taking bribes from a Japanese firm.


In his appeal, Huynh Ngoc Si asked the People's Supreme Procuracy to reconsider the punishment, saying that he didn't receive bribes from the Tokyo-based Consultants International (PCI) to help the company win contracts of the Japanese ODA-funded East-West Highway Project.


On October 15 Si, who was in charge of the city's major infrastructure project between 2000 and 2008, was sentenced to life for taking US$262,000 in bribes from PCI's former leaders on May 28, 2003.


The HCMC People's Court also ordered Si to pay back the money to the state.


Although Si didn't admit his wrongdoing at the first hearing, the court convicted him based on testimonies of PCI's former leaders who accused him when standing trial in Tokyo on November 11, 2009, as well as other materials.


During the proceedings, the Japanese officials claimed to have offered Si a total of $820,000 in bribes.


Si, who is currently serving a six-year jail term for "abuse of power," is now under investigation for allegedly taking bribes from PCI on six additional occasions.


So far he has only stood trial for his acceptance of $262,000 in bribes, because the initial investigation deadline had passed.


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