Top Vietnam cop jailed for helping corrupt official flee arrest

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Duong Tu Trong, the former deputy chief of police in the northern port city of Hai Phong after his sentencing on January 8. He was given 18 years in prison for helping the former chairman of Vinalines flee corruption charges in May 2012. PHOTO COURTESY OF VNEXPRESS

A Hanoi court sentenced the former vice director of the northern city of Hai Phong's police department to 18 years in prison Wednesday for helping his brother, another senior official, flee corruption charges in 2012.

Duong Tu Trong, 52, was convicted by the Hanoi People's Court of masterminding a plan to send Duong Chi Dung, 56, former chairman of the state-owned shipping giant Vinalines, abroad in May 2012.

Dung, who was arrested four months after the escape, was given the death sentence for embezzling VND10 billion (US$474,000) in the purchase of an unusable floating deck at a trial last month.

Vu Tien Son, 47, also a Hai Phong police officer, was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in engineering Dung's escape plan.

Five other accomplices, including three Hai Phong police and customs officers, got jail terms of between five and eight years.

Another customs officer involved in the plan is still at large.

The board of judges also said that an investigation would be launched to clarify how Dung knew of his arrest in advance.

Giving his testimony as a witness at the trial, Dung said that Pham Quy Ngo, Deputy Minister of Public Security and a member of the Party's Central Committee, had informed him of his impending arrest, which enabled him to escape before police raided his house

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He claimed that he had paid Ngo $510,000. Ngo was also the chief of an inspectorate tasked with investigating violations at Vinalines.

According to the indictment, on May 17, Dung, then director of the Vietnam Maritime Administration, received a phone call informing him that Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had approved an order to arrest him over the dock scam at Vinalines.

He called his younger brother, who sent other defendants to transport him to the northern province of Quang Ninh, and then Ho Chi Minh City, and finally the southern province of Tay Ninh.

From Tay Ninh, he was driven to Cambodia, where he flew to the US.

However, since he was not allowed to enter the US, he returned to Cambodia, where he was arrested on September 4 by Vietnamese police in collaboration with Cambodian agencies.

Last month, Dung and his subordinate Mai Van Phuc, Vinalines' fomer general director, got the death sentence for embezzling VND10 billion ($474,000) each.

They had led eight others, most of whom were executives and employees with Vinalines, to purchase an unusable floating deck from Russia in 2008 for $9 million and then invest another $10.5 million into repairing it.

The purchase was estimated to have caused more than VND500 billion ($23.5 million), including port rental and security fees, in losses to the exchequer so far.

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