HCMC journalist arrested on bribery charges

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Ho Chi Minh City police on January 2 arrested a journalist at the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper for allegedly bribing a policeman.

They allege that Nguyen Van Khuong, well known under the penname of Hoang Khuong, 39, was involved in the case where Huynh Minh Duc, former officer of Binh Thanh District's traffic police division, was bribed to release a bike impounded in raid on illegal motorbike racing.

Police also arrested Nguyen Duc Dong Anh, Khuong's brother-in-law, on similar charges.

Duc was arrested on November 18 last year for allegedly taking bribes from a traffic violator, after Khuong exposed his actions in articles published in July.

According to the police, on the evening of April 23, 2011, Binh Thanh District's traffic police officers confiscated the motorcycle of Tran Minh Hoa, a Phu Nhuan District resident, for "reckless driving" and "causing public disorder."

Under the regulations, Hoa would have his bike returned if he paid a fine and submitted a "review letter" in which he admits his wrongdoings and promises not to repeat his actions before a group of resident representatives in the area where he lives. The letter must be verified by local police, in this instance, Phu Nhuan District's Ward 9 police division.

In early June 2011, Hoa met with his friend Nguyen Duc Dong Anh, Khuong's brother-in-law and also an illegal motorbike racer, and asked the latter to help him bail his bike out.

Anh then asked Khuong to help Minh Hoa. On June 13, 2011, Khuong asked a man named Ton That Hoa who had connections with some police officers to approach the Ward 9 police station, the police report says.

Ton That Hoa introduced himself as Minh Hoa's brother-in-law and asked the police to verify the review letter, but his request was turned down.

Ton That Hoa was, at that time, acting as a middle man to help a man named Tran Anh Tuan, who'd caused an accident while driving a trailer truck, to bail the truck out.

On June 25, 2011, Ton That Hoa met Duc (the traffic cop) at a coffee shop in Binh Thanh District and gave the latter VND3 million in bribes for releasing Tuan's truck and driver's license, the police report says.

The same day, Ton That Hoa, Tuan and Duc went to a restaurant to have a drink and Hoa asked Duc to "free" another confiscated vehicle. He then called Khuong to come to the restaurant and introduced the reporter to the policeman.

Khuong asked Duc to release the motorcycle of his brother-in-law and the latter agreed. Khuong then paid Duc VND15 million for the release of the bike and its registration certificate, according to the police report.

However, after the bike was released, Duc refused to give back the registration certificate for reasons not yet explained.

Ton That Hoa repeatedly called Duc, asking him to give the certificate back to Khuong. He threatened the policeman, saying refusal to return the certificate would result in his actions (of accepting bribes) being exposed in the press.

The police report says that after Duc ignored the threat, Khuong ran stories about the cop taking bribes from Tuan, the owner of the trailer truck.

On November 18, 2011, HCMC police arrested Duc on charges of "taking bribes" and Ton That Hoa and Tuan on charges of "mediating bribery" and "giving bribes," respectively.

On November 28, 2011, HCMC Police Department proposed that Tuoi Tre newspaper and the Press Department under the Ministry of Information and Communications revoke Khuong's journalist license and review his work.

The Tuoi Tre then revoked the license and suspended Khuong.

After he was arrested, the paper and Khuong's family hired a lawyer to defend Khuong.

Khuong has written around 50 articles about wrongdoings of police officers for the Tuoi Tre newspaper.

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