Vietnam official gets additional jail term for power abuse

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A former official of the transport ministry who is currently serving jail terms totaling 16 years got another seven years for "power abuse" at a trial in Hanoi Wednesday.


Bui Tien Dung, former director of the Ministry of Transport's Project Management Unit 18 (PMU18), previously faced charge of embezzlement which is punishable by up to over 20 years.


However, during the trial, which was opened last Monday, Hanoi's People's Procuracy, the prosecuting agency, asked that Dung be charged with "power abuse" instead, proposing a jail term of between 11-12 years.


According to the hearing, there was not enough evidence to charge Dung with embezzlement.


It was Pham Tien Dung, a former official of PMU 18 and who died of diabetes complications in a detention center in 2009, who joined hands with seven other officials to falsify documents to reflect work done by non-existent consultants to the Japanese ODA-funded Bai Chay Bridge project in the northern province of Quang Ninh, the Hanoi's People's Court heard.


From August 2003 to February 2007, the ring siphoned off over VND3.4 billion (US$165,530) as salaries for 26 non-existent workers.


The seven former officials received jail terms of between three and nine years for embezzlement.


Meanwhile, Dung, the former director, was convicted of abusing power by ordering his subordinate to give Do Kim Quy, former Deputy Chief of PMU18, VND500 million ($24,342) as a retirement gift when Quy retired in May, 2005. Dung was also found spending VND100 million ($4,875) treating guests illegally.


The court handed down a two-year-suspended sentence to Quy for "accepting gifts produced by criminal means."


All the defendants were also ordered to repay all the money they had taken, although  the Ministry of Transport, the project's investor and also the victim, did not ask for compensation.


Dung, 52, is presently serving a 13 year jail sentence handed down to him in 2007 for gambling and bribery, and a three year jail term for misusing state-owned cars, costing the state VND2.7 billion ($132,000).


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