Vietnamese man seeks media help after violent abduction in Japan

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H.V.Th. (middle) with police officers in Japan after escaping from his kidnappers early last September. Courtesy photo

A businessman from Ho Chi Minh City who was abducted, tortured and extorted by Vietnamese people in Japan says he and his family are still being harassed and threatened after his daring escape and rescue.

The man, who asked to be named only by his initials H.V.Th., said he was tortured for ten days before managing to escape and return to Vietnam with help from the Vietnamese embassy in Japan. His alleged abductors are still at large.

Th. said he came to Thanh Nien with his story because Vietnamese police had failed to stop months of threats against him and his family.

Via threats and harassment, the people Th. believes were his abductors are demanding payment of US$540,000 in debentures he was forced to write under torture in Japan.

Th. runs a business that requires him to travel to Japan regularly.

A woman named H. contacted him last August about a business deal in Japan. She sent him photos related to the business proposition before the two met in person. H. introduced Th. to a Japanese person involved in the deal who then invited Th. to Japan.

The evening Th. arrived in Japan he was picked up at the airport by two Vietnamese men. The men refused to take him to the hotel he had booked and instead took him to an abandoned house where he was beaten. They demanded large sums of money as they beat him, he said.

He said a large man had dragged him from the car into the house, putting him in a chair in front of a Vietnamese couple who interrogated him.

But before any questioning, the large man seized his personal papers and beat him unconscious.

"He put me back in the chair and threatened to kill me if I did not follow their orders. I was very panicked, and realized I had been abducted," Th. said.

The gang then forced him to write two debt certificates to them. It took until the afternoon of the next day for the gang to finish dictating the statements to him, Th. said.

"I could not bear the torture anymore so I had to write the papers."

But the beatings continued when the 45-year-old refused to call home and ask relatives to send money. He said the kidnappers knew he had recently sold some land for $2.38 million.

Afraid of being tracked down by local police, the gang took Th. to another house on a hill on August 30.

There, they demanded that he order his company to send over its seal and ended up beating him more when he refused to ask his employees to do so.

"They beat me black and blue, and forced me sign documents confirming the sale and transfer of my properties to these people, as well a document that said I had been treated very well in Japan," Th. said.

Th. said that he made various efforts to save himself but all failed early on. He had sneakily called his family and they had then asked the Vietnam Ministry of Public Security to cooperate with Japanese police for a rescue, but they did not track down the kidnappers.

"At two different places they kept me, I deliberately left personal stuff like a toothbrush, underpants and cigarettes as traces for the police," he said.

He escaped at 1 a.m. on September 2 in the middle of rainstorm after the gang had passed out drunk.

He ran for many hours until he hit a main road and got a taxi. He first intended to go to Narita airport but was afraid that the gang would be waiting for him there, so he stopped at a hotel nearby, calling a relative and colleague in Vietnam to contact the Vietnamese embassy in Japan.

Officials from the embassy came to his hotel at 4 a.m. and brought him to local police, who took his statements before sending him to a hospital.

He was put on a flight back to Vietnam on September 4.

"Right after I returned to Vietnam, I was summoned by the Ministry of Public Security, and then the Ho Chi Minh City police, for my statements. But the investigations are still inconclusive."

The man said the torture has left him in poor health with constant head pains, numbness in his back and right arm, and a ringing in the ears.

He said he did not expect the police to bring him compensation, but he did want an end to constant threats that he has been facing since coming home.

He said a group of strangers have been coming to his house as well as the house of the woman that he called for help after the escape named D.T.Tr. -- damaging the furniture and leaving threatening messages.

They threatened to kill the two and their families, forcing them to rent new houses to hide their whereabouts.

A source from the Ministry of Public Security told Thanh Nien that the Ho Chi Minh City police are in charge of the case.

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