Ha Giang leader faces dismissal in sex scandal

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Nude photos of a provincial leader were found in the cell phone of a sex worker

Defendants are escorted out of a trial in February of a high school principal having sex with his students in the northern mountainous Ha Giang Province. The Party's Inspection Commission has proposed dismissal of Ha Giang head while police sources accused that he had involved in the sex scandal.

Communist Party inspectors have recommended the dismissal of a provincial head due to his "unhealthy relations" and "irresponsible way of life."

The inspectors said Nguyen Truong To, chairman of the northern province of Ha Giang's People's Committee, the local government, has committed several violations. Most of these violations pertained to To's lifestyle.

According to several police sources, To might have had sexual relations with a sex worker in 2005, when he headed a department in the people's committee. Two other sex workers earlier this year also accused To of having sexual relations with them.

During the 32nd meeting of the Party's Inspection Committee, inspectors recommended that To be dismissed from his posts as Deputy Secretary of Ha Giang Province Party Unit, Chairman of Ha Giang People's Committee and Deputy of Ha Giang People's Council, which acts as the provincial legislature.

In a statement released on July 5, the Party's Inspection Commission said that To had "seriously violated the conduct [expected] of a [good] Party member" and "negatively impacted the image of a leading official."

The Party's Inspection Committee had warned To about his violations but he failed to admit wrongdoing and did not seem receptive to improving his behavior, according to the statement.

The inspectors ordered the provincial Party Unit chief and director of Ha Giang Police Department to file official reports regarding their knowledge of To's wrongdoing. In their statement, the inspectors also proposed punitive measures against the two officials who had known about To's dalliances since 2005 but failed to report it to higher ups.

Nude photos

The inspectors did not articulate the specifics of To's wrongdoings in their official statements, but according to the police sources, To was alleged of having patronized sex workers on two occasions.

According to the police sources, the first instance took place in November 2006 when Ha Giang police busted a prostitution ring. Police found nude photos of To posed "in different positions" saved in the phone of the sex worker, in addition to several text messages sent from his cell phone number.

The case was reported to Nguyen Binh Van, Director of Ha Giang Province Police Department and Hoang Minh Nhat, secretary of the provincial Party Unit and only resulted in internal rebuke.

Fast times at Viet Lam secondary schoo

Nguyen Truong To, deputy secretary of Ha Giang Province Party Unit, Chairman of Ha Giang People's Committee and deputy of Ha Giang People's Council

In the second case, a high school student accused To of having sexual relations with her when she was under 18.

Last November, the Ha Giang Court sentenced Sam Duc Xuong former principal of Viet Lam Secondary School in Vi Xuyen District to ten and a half years after he was found guilty of statutory rape.

Prosecutors alleged that the principal had abused his position to coerce young women into having sex with him. Two of his students, Nguyen Thi Hang, 19, and Nguyen Thi Thanh Thuy, 18, were sentenced to six and five years respectively for procuring other young girls to have sex with older men.

All three defendants appealed for more lenient sentences. Then, during their February appeals hearing, they changed their pleas. They were not guilty, they announced.

Two years earlier, the young women claimed, they were forced to have sex with local officials.

For the first time, Hang and Thuy named ten men, including To and other senior government officials, whom they claimed had had sex with them when they were underage.

The accusations came to light during the February 1 hearing of the Ha Giang Court of Appeals. The court found that last year's trial by the Vi Xuyen District Court (as well as the supporting investigations) had "seriously violated" regulations. As a result, they ordered a fresh investigation of the case.

According to an anonymous police source, Hang has told the investigators she had sex with Xuong [the principal] and other Ha Giang officials for money between 2008 and 2009. The source says that she implicated senior officials from the Ha Giang People's Committee, police and entrepreneurs in the province.

Tran Dinh Trien, Thuy's defense attorney, told the Tuoi Tre newspaper on July 7 that he was not surprised by the results of the Party's Inspection Commission.

"In the Sam Duc Xuong case, the defendants produced a black list accusing several Ha Giang officials of having sex with them," he said. "Nguyen Truong To topped the list."

Trien also said he heard about To's nude photos after Xuong's trial but he couldn't verify the information as a lawyer. "Now the [Party's] Central Inspection Commission has clearly concluded the issue," he added.

Party officials call for Ha Giang leader's ouster

A senior official has endorsed the a recent proposal by the Communist Party's Inspection Commission to dismiss the chairman of Ha Giang Province's People's Committee for his alleged role in a wide-scale sex scandal.

"I think violating ethical norms is not a minor issue," Hoang Trung Luyen, head of Ha Giang Party Unit's Propaganda and Education Commission, told the Tuoi Tre newspaper on July 8. "There should be stricter [measures] if violations of the Penal Code were found,"

Luyen was speaking to the media about the case of Nguyen Truong To. Party inspectors recently called for To's dismissal from his current posts as Deputy Secretary of Ha Giang Province Party Unit, Chairman of Ha Giang People's Committee, the local government, and Deputy of Ha Giang People's Council, the provincial legislature.

Luyen confirmed that police notified Party officials after finding To's nude photos in a cell phone belonging to a sex worker. Luyen said that the revelation resulted in internal rebuke. He also confirmed with Thanh Nien that To remains on next term's ballot for key posts in the province.

Nguyen Dinh Huong, former vice head of the Central Party's Organization Commission, said To deserves to be subjected to stricter measures.

"A Party member who is the head of a locality and has deteriorated should be dismissed from the Party, not just his posts," he said, adding that there should also be repercussions for officials who knew of To's actions but failed to report them to higher authorities.

Meanwhile, Le Quang Trieu, head of Ha Giang Party Unit's Inspection Department said any measures against To would be taken by the Party's Secretariat.

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