Lawyer accused of taking bribes in central Vietnam

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A bar association in the central province of Khanh Hoa has asked local police to investigate accusations that a lawyer has accepted bribes to help a man escape a jail term for theft, a local judge said Monday.

Nguyen Anh, judge of Nha Trang Town People's Court, told the press that Khanh Hoa's Bar Association also sent a report to the court along with evidence showing Phung The Dung, a 43-year-old member of the association, accepted VND70 million (US$3,300) in bribes.

According to the association, Dung received the money from the family of Do Duy Tri, who will stand trial on November 30 for stealing property worth more than VND92 million from tourists between February and April 2011.

Tri is facing charges of stealing, which is eligible for a jail term of between two and seven years, Anh said.

However, while Tri was in custody, Dung met with his family and offered to help him receive a suspended sentence in exchange for VND70 million, the bar association said.

The association submitted to the court a piece of paper on which Dung allegedly wrote that he had received the money to help Tri's family handle some work, and that he would return the money if the work was unsuccessful.

The "agreement" was dated on August 1 and allegedly had Dung's signature.

Khanh Hoa's Bar Association also submitted to the court a tape recording of the price negotiation between Dung and Tri's family.

But, at a meeting with the press on Monday, Dung denied all the accusations, saying that a family member of Tri, who is his acquaintance, had asked him to take the money to compensate the victims.

The acquaintance's identity wasn't revealed.

Meanwhile, a report on Tuoi Tre on Tuesday quoted Do Van Thu, Tri's father, as saying that on Monday the lawyer returned the money.

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