Vietnamese man compensated for wrong murder charge in 8-year legal fight

By Phan Thuong, Thanh Nien News

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 Truong Ba Nhan (R) and his lawyer who helped him demand for a compensation for wrongful detention. Photo: Phan Thuong Truong Ba Nhan (R) and his lawyer who helped him demand for a compensation for wrongful detention. Photo: Phan Thuong

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Ho Chi Minh City prosecutors on Monday agreed to pay a man they wrongfully charged of murder VND296 million, a compensation he had been fighting for the past eight years. 
The amount, equivalent to US$13,870, is less than one third of what Truong Ba Nhan, 53, demanded for the 44 months he was kept in detention. 
Prosecutors, however, refused to pay more since Nhan could not provide documents to prove damages. 
He took the offer, calculated based on Vietnam's current minimum wage.
Prosecutors also agreed to his demand for a public apology, in front of his neighbors in Binh Thanh District and in mainstream media, including Thanh Nien Newspaper. 
Nhan was arrested in early 2002 after his neighbor was found dead in her bedroom. 
Investigators said his fingerprints were on her cabinet, where around five ounces of gold and VND70 million were found missing.
He had an alibi but police did not accept it. 
They also dismissed his statement that he had helped the victim, who was also his relative, rearrange the cabinet one week before her death.
City prosecutors then charged him of murder and robbery, and proposed a death sentence. 
But a city court later found that the case was weak and ordered a reinvestigation.
Nhan was released after investigators could not find further evidence.
No further arrests related to the case have been made since. 
"I have lost everything, my family, my whole life," Nhan told local media after winning the compensation. 
President Truong Tan Sang last July ordered prosecutors to clean up the justice system and minimize wrongful charges, prompting cities and provinces across Vietnam to review past cases. 
Sang said wrongful accusations would “destroy the system and the people’s confidence in the government.” 
He made the statement following a high-profile case from the northern province of Bac Giang.
Nguyen Thanh Chan, 54, was exonerated after serving 10 years of a life sentence for the murder of a local woman. 
His release, cheered by many as a rare legal victory, was made possible by his wife, who conducted a private investigation on her own and found a new suspect. 

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