A Vietnamese-Czech man charged in Germany with helping Vietnam’s secret police kidnap a former oil executive and take him back to Vietnam for trial confessed on Tuesday in a Berlin court to his role in the plot, admitting that he knew what he was doing all along.
Nguyen Hai Long, 47, said in a statement read out by his lawyer that he had rented cars knowing that Vietnamese secret police would use them on July 23, 2017 to kidnap Trinh Xuan Thanh, former head of PetroVietnam Construction, from a park in Berlin, a reporter attending the trial told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Wednesday.
The confession replaced a first confession presented earlier in the day, journalist Le Trung Khoa told RFA after Tuesday’s court session.
In that statement, Long admitted only that he had been asked by a relative to rent three cars in the Czech Republic and subsequently met a Vietnamese police general named Duong Minh Hung, who said he had been sent to “arrest an important figure.”
That confession was rejected as inadequate by the prosecution, and the judge suspended proceedings to discuss whether new witnesses should be called, said Khoa, editor of the Germany-based thoibao.de online news service, which has been covering the trial.
Long’s second statement, presented in the afternoon, was more forthcoming, Khoa said.
“That one was more detailed, and Nguyen Hai Long acknowledged in particular that he had known even before renting the first car, a BMW X5, that Vietnam’s secret service intended to kidnap Trinh Xuan Thanh.”
“This means that he knew of the conspiracy right from the beginning, and was not unknowingly involved,” Khoa said.
Thanh, who had been seeking asylum in Germany, was sentenced by a Vietnamese court in January to two terms of life in prison on charges of mismanagement and embezzlement.
The German Federal Prosecutor’s office, Long’s lawyers, and the German lawyer who had represented Thanh and fought for him to remain in Germany, accepted Long’s second statement, “and Long signed the paper in court that afternoon,” Khoa said.
Another hearing for Long is scheduled for Monday, July 23, Khoa said.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by An Nguyen. Written in English by Richard Finney.