A court in southern Vietnam’s Vung Tau province has reduced the prison term previously imposed on a convicted child molester, citing the man’s age and his long service to the country’s ruling Communist Party, Vietnamese sources say.
Nguyen Khac Thuy, 78 and a retired banker, was handed an 18-month suspended sentence and 36 months’ probation on May 11 after successfully appealing a three-year prison term imposed on Nov. 17, 2017.
The appeals court’s ruling prompted a public outcry, with Vietnamese citizens going online to criticize the court’s decision and authorities warning family members of the victims not to discuss the politically sensitive case with foreign media.
Speaking to RFA’s Vietnamese Service on May 12, the mother of one of Thuy’s two victims said that almost everyone attending last week’s hearing was “disappointed and upset” by the court’s decision to reduce the sentence given by the lower court.
“The witnesses and victims have discussed this and agree that we should now take this to a higher court,” the woman said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Local authorities have told her not to discuss the case with foreign media, she said.
“I have to be careful while seeking justice for my daughter, because I don’t want to have more trouble.”
“On Monday [May 14], I will send some paperwork to Saigon to begin an appeal,” she said.
'Embarrassment to justice'
Caught molesting a girl in 2014, Thuy was reported to the Nguyen An Ninh commune of Vung Tau city but was not charged until another case came to light last year and a video prepared by the mother of the second victim, a six-year-old girl, went viral, sources said.
Writing on his Facebook page on May 11, a lawyer who helped the victims’ families prepare for last week’s hearing, said that many had feared that Thuy, a senior party member and director of a branch of Vietnam’s national bank, would never be brought to court.
“This 18-month suspended sentence is an embarrassment to justice,” the lawyer, Le Ngoc Luan, said, adding that he will continue to raise his voice in the case.
Also speaking to RFA, Kim Thuy, a retired party member living in Hanoi, pointed to widespread public outrage over the case.
“The public is very upset about this,” she said. “People are cursing and criticizing all over the internet.”
“A good party member should never use his party status to threaten anyone. And if he is really so frail, how can he have such a strong libido?” she asked.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Viet Ha. Written in English by Richard Finney.