Man wrongfully jailed 17 years for murder demands $800,000 compensation

Thanh Nien News

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Huynh Van Nen sits beside his wife in front of their house in Binh Thuan Province. Photo: Que Ha Huynh Van Nen sits beside his wife in front of their house in Binh Thuan Province. Photo: Que Ha


A 54-year-old Vietnamese man who served 17 years in prison for a wrongful murder conviction on Monday demanded that a local court pay him VND18 billion (US$800,000) as compensation, his lawyers said.
Huynh Van Nen had his name cleared last October. Authorities in Binh Thuan Province in December officially apologized to him, admitting that severe mistakes had been made, leading to the miscarriage of justice. 
"I have lived in bitterness and humiliation for more than 17 years," Nen said in December. 
But the man said he had kept his faith. 
"Although I was wronged, I always believed that someone would clear my name. I believe in justice and it finally happened to me, even though it's late.
"I hope that investigators and judges will give careful consideration to every decision they make, so no one will ever be wrongfully convicted like I was," he said in tears.
Last month, Nen was rushed to hospital after a traffic crash. He reportedly tried to ride his motorbike. He has recovered.
The case
Nen was arrested in May 1998 for the death of his neighbor Nguyen Thi Bong earlier that year. Investigators said Nen admitted to killing her to steal her belongings.
Police also claimed that Nen also confessed that he and nine of his relatives had killed another woman, Duong Thi My, in 1993. All of them were arrested soon after that.
In August 2000, a court in the central province of Binh Thuan found him guilty of murdering Bong. He was sentenced to life in prison.
One month later, Nguyen Phuc Thanh, a relative by marriage, appealed the verdict on Nen's behalf. Thanh claimed that two of his friends, Nguyen Tho and Ho Van Viet, were the killers and told him about the crime.
The appeal was rejected, as were several others in the following years.
In 2005, after several hearings, Nen and his relatives were cleared of killing My. All of them were compensated, except for Nen, who went on to serve his sentence for the murder of Bong.
In November 2014, the Supreme Court ordered his case to be reopened. This time investigators concluded that he had not killed Bong either.
On October 22, he was released on bail for medical treatment.
On October 28, his wrongful conviction for the murder of Bong was finally overturned, after more than 17 years.
Tho, one of the two suspects, was arrested last year around that time. He confessed to the murder. The other suspect, Viet, died in 2001.

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