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Life sentences upheld for three high-ranking officials in “repatriation flight” bribery case

Hanoi (Vietnam News/ANN) -- The High-level People’s Court in Hanoi rejected the appeal and upheld the sentence of life imprisonment handed down at the first-instance trial for three defendants in the “repatriation flights” case on Wednesday during an appeal trial that began this week.

A view of the appeal court hearing in Hanoi for the repatriation flight scandal. --Photo VNA/VNS

The three defendants – Phạm Trung Kien, a former official at the Ministry of Health; Nguyen Thị Huong Lan, former director of the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Vu Anh Tuan, former officer of the Immigration Department at the Ministry of Public Security – were imprisoned for life on the charge of taking bribes.
The court also kept unchanged the prison sentences for Vu Sy Cuong, former officer of the Immigration Department at the Ministry of Public Security; Tran Minh Tuan, director of Thai Hoa Company; and Phạm Bich Hang, deputy director of International Tourism Co., Ltd, at 20 months.
The court reduced the sentences for To Anh Dung, former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs (from the initial 16 years in jail down to 14 years); Do Hoang Tung, former deputy director of the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (from 12 years down to 10 years); and Tran Van Tan, former deputy chairman of the People’s Committee of Quang Nam Province (from six years down to five years).
A group of defendants charged with “giving bribes”, including executives of many businesses, also had their prison terms reduced. The court explained that their violations were partly caused by harassment by officials in State agencies or flaws in State mechanisms. Those defendants have also shown cooperation during the investigation process.
Three defendants had their jail sentences reduced to suspended sentences, including: Nguyen Hoang Linh, former staff member of the Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia; Dang Minh Phuong, former accountant of the Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia; and Tran Quoc Tuan, director of Vietnam Tourism Trade Promotion Co., Ltd.
Notably, Hoang Van Hung, former head of the investigation division of the Investment Security Department at the Ministry of Public Security, also had his sentence reduced from life imprisonment to 20 years in prison.
At the appeal hearing, Hung, charged with “fraudulent appropriation of assets,” admitted to his violation with remorse, and returned VNĐ18.8 billion (over US$773,000) associated with the committed offense. He had promised to clear the crime of the director of a travel company during the investigation of the repatriation flight case, in return for a bribe of a large sum.
The court reduced the jail sentences for former Vietnamese Ambassador to Malaysia Tran Viet Thai (from the initial four years down to three years on the charge of “abusing position and power while performing duties”), and Nguyen Anh Tuan, former deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Public Security (from the initial five years down to four years on the charge of “brokering bribery”).
According to the first-instance verdict, amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the Government ordered organising repatriation flights for overseas Vietnamese. Specific tasks were assigned to the Government Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant ministries, and some municipal and provincial people’s committees.
The defendants had taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to commit the crimes, which had occurred at many different ministries, sectors and localities. Most of the charges were classified as “particularly serious” and “particularly dangerous for society”.

(Latest Update December 29, 2023)

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