'Too many' corruption suspects excused for mental illness

By Thai Son, Thanh Nien News

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Vietnam's government leaders at a Hanoi meeting on corruption on September 15, 2014. Photo: Thai Son Vietnam's government leaders at a Hanoi meeting on corruption on September 15, 2014. Photo: Thai Son


Vietnam's national legislators say too many officials facing corruption charges end up getting off by either pleading insanity or paying fines.
“[Insanity Pleas] happen in a lot of corruption cases,” Do Van Duong, a member of the National Assembly's Justice Committee said at a meeting in Hanoi on Monday.
Without naming names, Duong said some suspects suddenly developed mental problems as soon as an investigation begins and the case either gets delayed for tests or suspended indefinitely.
“I think we don’t need psychological diagnoses for these kinds of criminals,” he said.
Nguyen Van Hien, the committee chairman, also said a number of officials managed to evade criminal responsibility even after being indicted, by essentially pleading insanity.
“Were they really sick or were they just avoiding conviction? I noticed that many of them were very sane and healthy,” Hien said.
Hien said he has heard similar questions from the public.
He suggested that laws related to judicial investigations be amended so that they're stricter and don't allow corruption suspects to slide through loopholes by faking mental illness.
Nguyen Hai Phong, the country’s deputy chief prosecutor, said many judicial investigators are not professionally trained.
A government report said 54 corruption cases have been exposed in the past year, involving 87 people and VND68.5 billion (US$3.23 million).
But the report also called those findings insignificant.
Tran Duc Luong, deputy chief government inspector, said many units conceal the corrupt behavior of their staff to maintain a good image.
“We are considering holding the leaders of those units responsible in such cases,” Luong said.
Nguyen Dinh Quyen, vice chairman of the committee, said most punishments meted out for official corruption more or less amount to a slap on the wrist.
Vietnamese law recognizes 12 forms of corruption, but only seven are considered criminal acts.
The other five only carry administrative penalties.
Quyen said most corrupt officials get off with being fined or censured.

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