Details not clear in ex-prosecutor’s alleged molestation case: police

By Hai Duyen   July 22, 2019 | 03:55 am PT
Details not clear in ex-prosecutor’s alleged molestation case: police
Nguyen Huu Linh, a former prosecutor, appears at the People's Court of HCMC's District 4, June 25, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Police are unable to decide whether or not a former prosecutor placed his left hand on a girl’s torso.

In the infamous case of Nguyen Huu Linh, a retired deputy chief prosecutor of Da Nang City, hugging and kissing a five-year-old girl in an apartment elevator in HCMC’s District 4 last April, police said the CTTV camera footage is not clear enough to make certain determinations.

It is hard to tell if Linh, 61, who is now practicing as a lawyer, had put his left hand on the torso of the girl, the district’s police department concluded Monday.

It can be seen in the camera footage that he used his right hand to hold the girl.

Pham Xuan Thao, deputy head of District 4’s police department, said the police were investigating further to make conclusions. "Whatever the additional investigation says, what has been found previously is already enough to press charges against Linh, and the additional part alone cannot decide if he is guilty or not," he said.

On June 25, the People’s Court of District 4 heard the charges against Linh for "molesting a person under 16" at an in-camera trial.

After two hours, the panel of judges said the indictment did not clarify which act was deemed molestation. So they decided that further investigation was needed and the camera footage used in the case should be checked again.

Prior to the trial, investigations had showed there was "a possibility that [Linh’s] left hand had touched the front of the girl’s torso, and she ducked as a natural reflex," but there was no concrete evidence to determine the exact point of touch.

Linh was visiting his son in District 4 on April 1 when he found himself in an elevator along with a five-year-old girl, whose identity has not been revealed to protect her privacy. He was caught on CCTV camera wrapping his arms around her neck and kissing her. When she squirmed away from him, he grabbed her again and only let her go when the door opened. She ran away in panic.

The girl told her parents about the incident and they asked to see the elevator camera footage, which showed Linh had behaved inappropriately. The police had said later that he had also touched her thighs.

When questioned by the police, Linh said he had merely "petted" the girl he thought was cute and did kiss her three times, but not with the intention of molesting her.

He rejected the charges filed against him saying there was not enough evidence to support them. His lawyer also demanded more evidence to support the charges.

Prosecutors said at the first trial that Linh's actions were dangerous to society but he should be given a commuted sentence since it was his first crime and he had been honest and remorseful during the investigation.

The trial, the judges’ conclusions and the police’s statements about insufficient evidence are happening in the context of repeated complaints by the public and experts that persons found guilty of rape and sexual harassment are being treated too leniently by Vietnam’s criminal justice system.

Vietnam recorded 1,547 cases of child sex abuse in 2018, down slightly from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Public Security. However, experts and officials have repeatedly said that actual numbers could be higher.

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