Vietnam prosecutors want American jailed for fatal crash, say cash fine not enough

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Wheeler Lloyd Stephan stands trial in Ho Chi Minh City on November 26, 2015 for a deadly road crash. Photo credit: Tuyet Mai/Tuoi Tre Wheeler Lloyd Stephan stands trial in Ho Chi Minh City on November 26, 2015 for a deadly road crash. Photo credit: Tuyet Mai/Tuoi Tre

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Prosecutors in Ho Chi Minh City have protested a cash fine against an American man who they say should be jailed for a fatal crash two years ago. 
Ho Chi Minh City Superior People’s Court, an appellate jurisdiction, announced this week that it has received an official statement from the city's top prosecutors saying the cash penalty in this case was not enough and even unlawful. It is not clear when the statement was sent. 
Earlier a court in November decided to fine Wheeler Lloyd Stephan, 66, VND50 million (US$2,228) after finding him guilty of causing a fatal accident in the city downtown in March 2014.
The indictment said he had encroached his motorbike on the opposite direction to avoid another vehicle when he hit a Vietnamese man. The victim died two months later due to spinal cord injuries.
Stephan reportedly took the victim to hospital after the crash and also paid VND108 million to the family for medical treatment and funeral expenses.
The teacher at an international school in the city cried during the first-instance trial in November. The judge panel then decided that he would not be imprisoned because there were “extenuating circumstances.”
But after reviewing the case, top prosecutors said that a cash fine could not be imposed in this serious criminal case.
“The violation here was very serious, even though there were extenuating factors,” they said. “The court could have given a jail term of between six months and five years.”
It is not usual for prosecutors in Vietnam to demand a different judge ruling. Now that prosecutors have questioned the previous sentencing, a higher court will have to look into the case. 

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