Three in headline-grabbing rape case ordered back to jail

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Three men from northern Vietnam, convicted of rape and robbery ten years ago and released early 2010, will have to continue their jail terms, according to a Hanoi People's Court decision sent to them on Monday.

The decision, signed on January 12, noted that they would have to present at the local police station within 7 days for to be taken to jail or they will be escorted by police to do so. The time is four days to Tet (Lunar New Year on January 23).

The case made headlines nationwide in 2010 after a traditional medicine practitioner who performed health check-up for one of them claimed that, based on the traditional Chinese meridian theory, the man had never had sex.

On December 7, 2011, the Supreme People's Court rejected the request made by the Supreme People's Prosecutors' Office to overturn the convictions of Nguyen Dinh Tinh, Nguyen Dinh Loi and Nguyen Dinh Kien.

The court ruled that the trio must serve their interrupted sentences because there is not enough evidence to establish their innocence.

During their first trial in April, 2002 in the northern province of Ha Tay [which was merged into Hanoi in August, 2008], Tinh and his nephews - Loi and Kien were found guilty of robbing a couple on the night of October 24, 2000.

They had used a knife to control the man and took turns raping his girlfriend, the indictment said at that time.

A court of appeals in Hanoi in 2002 upheld the verdicts.

In January 2010, the Supreme People's Prosecutors' Office proposed to reconsider the verdicts handed down to the trio, citing a discovery of crucial errors in investigative and prosecutorial procedures.

For example, Ha Tay authorities had failed to take the men's alibis into consideration.

Many people had seen the young men at a birthday party during the time the crimes took place, VnExpress news website quoted prosecutors as saying.

Local media have reported that the case was under review thanks to Pham Thi Hong, a traditional medicine practitioner from a local hospital.

Hong, who has spent many years studying acupuncture points and meridians, told the press that she first met Loi, who came to her hospital for a health check-up in 2006.

She then discovered that a meridian under his earlobe was still intact.

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Hong claimed that a man's meridian breaks when he first has sex. She added that it is penetrated by a "flow of yin air" from his partner.

Because Hong's meridian findings qualified as admissible evidence, the doctor went on to research the case and found numerous inconsistencies. After filing several appeals to related agencies, Hong was reported to have threatened to burn herself to protest the young men's innocence.

Her determination finally caught the attention of then-President Nguyen Minh Triet, who ordered the courts to review the case, according to reports.

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