Vietnamese man demands $47,000 for wrongful 10-year imprisonment

Thanh Nien News

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Nguyen Thanh Chan at his home in Bac Giang Province. He was released in November after serving ten years of a life sentence for a wrongful murder conviction. Photo courtesy of VnExpress
A man from northern Vietnam who was released from jail last November after ten years of a life sentence on a wrongful murder conviction has demanded more than VND1 billion (US$47,430) in compensation.

Nguyen Thanh Chan from Bac Giang Province said in his appeal to the supreme court the amount comes from VND280,000 ($13) of daily income he could have earned during his 3,700 days in jail and the cost of the his wife’s tireless fight for his freedom, including her medical fees.

He was arrested on September 20, 2003 for the murder of a local woman and released November 4 last year. An announcement from the Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme People’s Court officially cleared his name late January.

Chan told news website VnExpress that he was the family’s breadwinner and worked different jobs including cargo transport on horsecart, alcohol production, rice milling, pig breeding and running a small café.

He said his wife Nguyen Thi Chien had traveled to different agencies, filed numerous appeals and conducted her own investigation that forced the real murderer to confess and surrender.

She heard the relatives of Ly Nguyen Chung, a 26-year-old local, talk about him in relation to the murder. She secretly recorded their conversation and pieced the story together and then filed a petition accusing Chung of the crime in August.

Her evidence forced authorities to summon Chung, who turned up two months later after switching phone numbers and whereabouts, including a jaunt to China.

Chung had left the village soon after the murder and lived thousands of kilometers away in the Central Highlands.

The wife developed mental problems during her fight for justice and had to visit the National Psychiatric Hospital in Hanoi several times.

Her medical fees totaled some VND60 million and the struggle left her owing banks and relatives around VND500 million, Chan said.

He also said that police had seized from his family a bicycle, a shoulder pole for carrying water, some shoulder poles for cargo transport, some clothes, and he demanded their return.

His family has not received any official statement about compensation.

They are still working with investigators from the Ministry of Public Security about his accusations that some police officers made death threats to force him to plead guilty.

Chan’s children said him going to jail turned their life upside down. Besides public hostility, they were also deprived of care as the mother was too busy fighting for justice and three of them only finished ninth grade.

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