Probe of ex-official halted in cinema department scandal

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Vietnam's highest prosecutor's office has suspended its investigation of a former government cinema department deputy for his alleged involvement in the loss of VND44 billion (US$2.1 million) in state funds, VietNamNet has reported.

The Supreme People's Procuracy, Vietnam's highest prosecutor office, ordered the Ministry of Public Security to halt its investigation of Le Ngoc Minh, former deputy director of the Department of Cinema at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

The investigation will be suspended until police arrest Pham Thanh Hai, "the main suspect," the news website quoted as statement released by the office as saying.

The prosecutors' office, however, did not mention three other former officials who were accused alongside Minh in June.

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They were accused of allowing Hai, an accountant at the department's movie center, to fake signatures and documents to pocket money between 2008 and 2011. The accountant, 35, has been on the run since police started investigating the case last year.

According to VietNamNet, the decision soon drew objections from local film directors and scriptwriters who along with many artists filed an appeal against Minh and Lai Van Sinh, former director of the cinema department, leading to their resignation last September.

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