Police pledge fairness and swift end to reporter's bribery probe

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Ho Chi Minh City police have pledged to fairly and adequately investigate the case of a local newspaper reporter arrested last month on bribery accusations.

"We will have to listen to all voice records of [reporter] Hoang Khuong. Investigators will ensure fairness and objectivity and a conclusion is expected to be available in March," said Major General Phan Anh Minh, deputy director of the city's Police Department.

Meanwhile, controversy has swirled around the case of 39-year-old Nguyen Van Khuong, whose penname is Hoang Khuong, an investigative reporter of Tuoi Tre Newspaper.

At a January press conference to review security in HCMC, police said Khuong had arranged to bribe traffic police in order to report on the case in his newspaper.

Police said Khuong helped Tran Minh Hoa to get his motorbike out by bribing Huynh Minh Duc then-senior lieutenant of Binh Thanh District's traffic police because Hoa is a friend of Khuong's brother-in-law, Nguen Duc Dong Anh.

The bribe of VND15 million was allegedly made with the assistance of Ton That Hoa director of Duy Nguyen Enterprise who knows Duc.

Police also said that Khuong had helped Minh Hoa once before.

Khuong's reports led to the arrest of Duc. Khuong himself and Anh were arrested later.

However, Tuoi Tre newspaper maintains that it had asked Khuong to investigate on the bribery involving traffic police in releasing motorbikes seized in illegal races.

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Khuong, who denies any wrongdoing, had received permission from his supervisors before conducting the investigation and publishing the story, the newspaper's managing editor said.

"Thus Khuong worked as had been requested by the board of editors and did not have any personal motivation," he said, conceding that Khuong may have made some errors during reporting.

Trung also requested police supply evidence in support of their claim that Khuong had previously helped Hoa take back a seized motorbike.

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