Vietnam's supreme court to reconsider verdicts against rapists

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The People's Supreme Court will open a hearing to reconsider charges of robbery and rape against three men who were given jail terms totaling 41 years in 2002, local news website VnExpress reported.


The hearing was originally scheduled for Friday June 4 but was delayed due to the absence of some members of the board of judges. The new date is presently unknown, the website reported.


In January, Vietnam's highest procuracy office, the People's Supreme Procuracy, proposed that the court reconsider the verdicts handed down to Nguyen Dinh Tinh, Nguyen Dinh Loi, and Nguyen Dinh Kien, as critical mistakes had been found in the investigation and prosecution procedures, the news source said.


In the first trial in the northern province of Ha Tay (now Ha Dong District in Hanoi) in April, 2002, Tinh, and his nephews - Loi and Kien, were found guilty of robbing a couple on the night of October 24, 2000.


They had used a knife to control the man, Nguyen Chinh Hai, and took it in turns to rape his girlfriend, Nguyen Thi Hong Hanh, investigators said.


A court of appeal in Hanoi later upheld the verdicts.


However, the People's Supreme Procuracy said police and the court in Ha Tay failed to  to take the men's alibis into consideration.


Many people had seen the men, aged 19-20 when they were arrested, at a birthday party during the time the crime took place, according to the procuracy.


A T-shirt left behind by one of the culprits and then picked up by the victim, the only piece of evidence, was different from the one described in police's documents, they said.


The defendants' confession was in conflict to the victims' testimonies, Le Huu The, deputy chief of the People's Supreme Procuracy, said in an interview with VnExpress.


Both the trials also failed to consider the defendants' allegations claiming that they were coerced into admitting to the crimes, The said, noting that the procuracy will launch investigations into the accusations.


Virginity meridian


According to the news source, while serving their time, the young men kept submitting appeals to related agencies, saying that they didn't commit the crimes.


However, it was not until Doctor Pham Thi Hong from Ha Dong General Hospital stepped in, submitting appeals to related agencies, did the procuracy review the case, VnExpress reported.


Hong, who has spent many years studying traditional medicine, especially acupuncture points and meridians, told Hanoi-based newspaper Dang yeu that her involvement with the case began in 2006 when she met Loi, who came to the hospital where she worked for a health check-up, another news website Vietnamnet reported.


Loi kept crying and telling her that he didn't commit the crimes and that he had never even had sex with a woman. Hong checked a meridian under his earlobe, which, according to traditional medicine, can identify whether a man is a virgin or not, the news source said.


According to Hong, the meridian breaks after a man has sex, as it's penetrated by a "flow of yin air" from his partner. Hong's check showed that Loi's meridian was still intact.


However, as only those who study traditional medicine know about the meridian, Hong said it couldn't act as convincing evidence.


She then researched the case and found various details to be unclear with conflicting information, Vietnamnet said.


The doctor sent hundreds of appeals to related agencies, and threatened to burn herself to claim the young men's innocence.


Her determination caught the attention of President Nguyen Minh Triet, prompting him to order a review into the case, it reported.

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