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Ex-prosecutor caught molesting girl in elevator faces maximum of three years in jail

By Quoc Thang   May 22, 2019 | 08:33 pm PT
Ex-prosecutor caught molesting girl in elevator faces maximum of three years in jail
Nguyen Huu Linh, 61, used to serve as a deputy chief prosecutor in the central city of Da Nang. Photo courtesy of Da Nang's People's Procuracy.
Prosecutors have filed charges against an ex-prosecutor for molesting a five-year-old girl in a Saigon apartment elevator last month.

Nguyen Huu Linh, 61, a retired deputy chief prosecutor in the central city of Da Nang and currently a lawyer, has been charged with "molestation of a person under 16," which carries a prison sentence of six months to three years, prosecutors in Ho Chi Minh City said on Wednesday.

But the date of the trial has yet to be announced.

Linh, who lives in Da Nang, visited his son in an apartment building in District 4 and on the night of April 1 was in an elevator with the girl, whose identity has not been revealed to protect her privacy.

Linh was caught on CCTV camera wrapping his arms around the girl’s neck and kissing her. When she squirmed away from him, he grabbed her again and only let her go when the door opened.

The girl told her parents about the incident and her family asked to see the elevator camera footage, which showed Linh had behaved inappropriately with her. Police later said he had touched the girl's thighs.

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

The family did not want to make a fuss because they were worried about how it would affect the girl. Linh returned to Da Nang soon afterward.

When the footage surfaced online, there was an eruption of public anger with many calling for severe punishment for Linh, especially because he himself had been a prosecutor.

On April 21, HCMC police officially started a criminal investigation against him. 

Prosecutors said Linh's action was dangerous to the society but he should be entitled to a commuted sentence as it was his first criminal offense and he had been honest and remorseful during the investigation process.

Vietnam recorded 1,547 child sex abuse cases in 2018, down 2.8 percent from a year earlier, according to figures from the Ministry of Public Security.

However, the public and experts have repeatedly complained that persons found guilty of rape and sexual harassment are treated too leniently.

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