Innocent man in Vietnam demands $471,000 for decade in jail

Thanh Nien News

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File photo shows an official of the Supreme Court declaring the innocence of Nguyen Thanh Chan (L) in January, 2014. Photo credit: VnExpress File photo shows an official of the Supreme Court declaring the innocence of Nguyen Thanh Chan (L) in January, 2014. Photo credit: VnExpress


A negotiation between the Vietnam Supreme People’s Court and Nguyen Thanh Chan, an innocent man who served ten years for a wrongful murder conviction, will commence on August 15, Chan said on Monday afternoon.

Chan has demanded a total of VND10 billion (US $471,000) for lost wages during his 3,699 days in jail and the 83 days he spent out of jail before the justice system officially cleared his name.

“I offer that deal, [knowing] for sure that the court will offer another number,” Chan told a VnExpress reporter. “If the two sides can reach a negotiation soon, that will be great, then I can live in peace after serving 10 years in jail for no reason.”

The supreme court ordered the arrest of a prosecutor and a senior police officer in May for their roles in sentencing Chan to life in prison for murder.

Dang The Vinh of Bac Giang Province's Prosecutorial Office, and Tran Nhat Luat, deputy chief officer of Viet Yen District police, were placed under arrest pending an investigation into charges of “falsification of trial documents.”

Nguyen Thanh Chan was found guilty of murdering a local woman and was sentenced to life in prison in March of 2004.

Four months later, the supreme court dismissed his appeal and upheld the initial sentence.

His wife’s investigation forced the real murderer, another local man, to give himself up last October.

Chan was released last November and the Supreme Court officially cleared his name in January, 2014.

In April, his lawyer filed a petition and related documents to the Supreme People’s Court in Hanoi demanding compensation and a public apology.

The lawyer revealed no specific figure but hinted that the state might owe him more than US$1 million.

He also suggested the state might owe his client thousands of additional dollars for damages to his prestige and dignity, as well as the trauma caused to his family.

Chan's wife, Nguyen Thi Chien, developed psychological problems during the ten years she spent fighting on her husband's behalf. In his petition, Chan blamed her preoccupation with the case on her failure to care for his elderly mother and four children. Three of their children left school after finishing the ninth grade and have missed the opportunity to earn a proper living.

Chan has also sent complaints to different government agencies claiming that police officers threatened to kill him to force him to plead guilty.

Police have yet to launch an investigation into those claims.

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