Former judiciary official gets life for marriage-facilitating graft

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A court in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho Tuesday sentenced to life a former official for accepting over VND4.1 billion (US$196,000) in bribes to facilitate local women's marriages with foreigners.

Pham Thanh Dung, former deputy chief of the Judicial Administrative section under the city's Justice Department, was convicted of receiving bribes from eight people between April 2009 and November 2010 to expedite the paperwork for 359 marriages.

The eight people received jail terms of between ten and 20 years at the trial held by Can Tho City People's Court.

The court said Dung's sentence included a one-year sentence for "illegal possession of military-use weapons," as he was found having a shot gun and seven bullets.

According to the indictment, in April 2009, Dung was assigned the duty of processing paperwork regarding marriages with foreign factors.

Under regulations, people who want to register a marriage with foreigners have to attend an interview and have related documents checked.

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However, Dung asked people to pay him between $250-350, sometimes up to $1,000 so he expedited their paperwork. If they refused to pay him, he would make the procedures more difficult and force people to attend many interviews.

Prosecutors said the number of cases recorded as handled by Dung showed he could have received up to around $1.1 million. But they said they did not have enough evidence to charge him with taking bigger sums.

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