Vietnam court convicts former cop for receiving bribes

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A court in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang on Monday sentenced a former police investigator in absentia to seven years in jail for having received bribes.


Tran Viet Thong, former deputy chief of an investigation team of Chau Thanh District's Police, remains at large.


According to the indictment, around midnight on June 23, 2011, Chau Minh Viet, a hired driver, was driving a bus with 40 passengers.


Viet was speeding and crashed into a bicycle rider traveling ahead of him. The rider was killed.


Thong was assigned to the accident site to investigate. His report said the accident was Viet's fault.


The following day, the bus owner Tran Tu Mai came to meet Thong at his office, offering a bribe of VND10 million (US$477) to get the confiscated vehicle back.


Thong accepted the bribe.

Vietnam's 2012 annual per capita is around $1,555.


Three days later, Mai returned to the office to retrieve the bus, but Thong asked for an additional VND50 million.


Mai promised to pay the bribe, but upon returning home, told the story to an acquaintance, another police officer.


The officer asked Mai to lead Thong on, while he secretly reported the case to Chau Thanh police.


Thong altered his report, saying the accident had been caused by the deceased bicyclist, not the bus driver.


On June 30, 2011, Chau Thanh police summoned Mai for questioning. Mai confessed to police to having given Thong VND10 million.  But Mai was not charged with paying bribes as she had actively cooperated with police, prosecutors said.


Thong then admitted to receiving the bribe. He, however, was only placed under house arrest pending a trial.


In February last year, Viet was sentenced to one year in jail on charges of "violating traffic regulations."


Soc Trang police dismissed Thong from the force and revoked his Party membership, a move in Vietnam that would pave the way for him to be formally prosecuted.


But Thong fled the province afterwards.




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