Vietnam court apologizes to man for wrong sentence

By Hai Sam – Ngoc Khanh, Thanh Nien News

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Pham Duc Tuyen (left), deputy presiding judge of Hai Phong People’s Court, shakes hands with city resident Nguyen Hong Cau March 28 after publicly apologizing for wrongfully imprisoning the man in 1997.

The Hai Phong city court apologized publicly on Friday to a man who was sent to jail for 70 days on a wrongful conviction 17 years ago.
Pham Duc Tuyen, deputy presiding judge of the Hai Phong People’s Court, read the apology at the court office.
The Tien Lang District People’s Court in June 1997 sentenced Nguyen Hong Cau, 50, to three months in jail for thievery.
Cau filed an appeal two months later and the Hai Phong People’s Court reduced his sentence to two months and ten days, and he was let go after the trial.
But Cau continued to seek a court of cassation and the Supreme People’s Court in October 1998 ruled that he was not guilty.
He was accused of stealing rice from more than 1,000 square meters of land -- part of the land area the district gave him in 1994 for a 20-year term. But the commune took the land away and gave it to another resident two years later. 
Cau had failed to submit 97 kilograms of rice as the land use fee, reasoning that the commune had yet to compensate him for letting fish destroy 240 kilograms of rice in his field earlier.
According to regulations set by the commune’ councilors, the commune could revoke 360 square meters for every 30 kilograms or rice not submitted. So it revoked 1,080 square meters and gave it to Cau’s neighbor Pham Minh Tuan.
As Cau family had farmed the field for the new crop, he asked Tuan to pay the money but Tuan refused.
So the family asked people to harvest the rice on the field area in 1997, prompting Tuan to file a complaint that led to the faulty trial.
After his name was cleared, Cau filed a lawsuit against Hai Phong court asking for compensation of more than VND648 million (currently US$30,732).
The Hai Phong court opened a trial over his lawsuit ten years later in 2008, agreeing to compensate him with VND17.38 million, apologize to him publicly in his neighborhood and in a state-owned newspaper.

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