DNA tests confirm father in Vietnam's shocking deathrow pregnancy case

By VnExpress   September 22, 2016 | 08:21 pm PT
DNA tests confirm father in Vietnam's shocking deathrow pregnancy case
Nguyen Thi Hue at a trial for drug trafficking. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre
The inmate is believed to impregnate herself  with semen sold to her in a plastic bag.

A drug trafficking prisoner in northern Vietnam managed to escape her death sentence by getting pregnant, and now DNA tests have identified a fellow inmate as the father of the child.

Investigators were trying to piece everything together. Matching the son of 42-year-old Nguyen Thi Hue to a male prisoner, Nguyen Tuan Hung, 27, appeared to help them prove a once far-fetched theory.

They now believe the woman had used “secret signs” to communicate with Hung to buy his semen for VND50 million (US$2,250). Vietnam's annual average income was $2,100 last year, according to the World Bank.

They said Hung managed to hand his semen and a syringe in a plastic bag to Hue twice in August 2015, allegedly during morning toilet breaks.

The woman then successfully inseminated herself.

The pregnancy was only discovered in January, shocking not only to prison officers but doctors across the country, who said that the chance of pregnancy was extremely rare in a case like this, if all the details hold true.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Viet Tien said that theoretically, sperm can survive for two to three hours, but the success rate of fertility in a case like this is only 1 percent.

“Even hospitals with modern techniques and equipment, the fertility rate remains below 50 percent,” he said.

Hue gave birth to a boy last May. In Vietnam, a pregnant woman or a mother whose child is less than 36 months old are immune from death sentences. Death sentences, if already handed down, will have to be reduced to life imprisonment.

Hung was not charged as a legal case could not be built against his act.

Four officers at the prison have been suspended and are under a criminal probe. Investigators want to find out if the officers abetted the duo in anyway or it was simply a case of negligence.

In a similar case in 2007, two corrections officers in the northern province of Hoa Binh were jailed after letting a woman on death row have sex with a male inmate and become pregnant.

The woman had been sentenced to death for drug smuggling. She gave birth to a boy in March 2007 and managed to escape death.

Prison pregnancies are not rare in the world. But a case like this, in which sexual intercourse has been ruled out, appears to be unprecedented.

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