HCMC court rejects compensation lawsuit of man falsely accused, imprisoned

By Hai Duyen   August 3, 2023 | 05:00 am PT
A court in HCMC's District 6 said it has no grounds to rule the case of a man seeking compensation for being wrongfully accused of stealing 38 years ago.

The court announced Wednesday that it has suspended the lawsuit filed by Trinh Dan Cuong, 67, against the People's Procuracy of District 6.

It said that documents submitted by Cuong as evidence for the case were not strong enough to file a lawsuit as per the Law on State Compensation Liability.

Nguyen Cong Trung, an authorized representative of Cuong, said he would appeal this decision of the court and ask the police and People's Procuracy of District 6 to issue a decision to suspend the accusation against Cuong.

Trinh Dan Cuong (R) and his authorized representative Nguyen Cong Trung at the court of District 6 on August 2, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/anh Trung

Trinh Dan Cuong (R) and his authorized representative Nguyen Cong Trung at the court of District 6, HCMC, on August 2, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/Anh Trung

In June, the People's Court of District 6 held a conciliation meeting between the two sides.

At the meeting, Cuong and Trung requested the People's Procuracy of District 6 to issue a decision to suspend the accusation, make a public apology, restore Cuong's honor, and compensate him VND6 billion (US$253,500) for the spiritual and material loss he had to suffer.

On February 28, 1985, Cuong, along with Ha Van Duoc and Tran Duc An, were arrested by police of District 6 following a neighbor's report that their gold, cash and jewelry were stolen. Cuong, Duoc and An, who are brothers in law, all proclaimed their innocence throughout the investigation.

Case files revealed that there were many signs showing that the crime scene had been tampered with, but Major Nguyen Huu Do, then the head of the criminal police force of District 6, "deliberately falsified documents to hide the fact that they arrested people without basis," according to the investigation.

The police of District 6 believed that Cuong and his brothers were unwilling to admit their crime, and so transferred the case to the HCMC police, causing the three to be put into the Chi Hoa Prison. As he was forced to confess to a crime he did not commit, Duoc committed suicide in prison on April 8, 1985.

Cuong's mother-in-law, Dong Thi Ba, then filed complaints with the city authorities, who investigated the case.

Cuong said that before his arrest, his family and his two brothers-in-law lived in the same house with Ba. In order to secure enough money to proclaim the men's innocence, she had to sell the house.

An was set free a year before Cuong, but he had a weak constitution and could not work. Without a home, he lived under a bridge until the day he died.

When they died, Duoc had one daughter, while An had three children.

Cuong was officially released from prison on December 3, 1986 but by then, his wife had already remarried, while his children stayed with their maternal grandmother. His health had already deteriorated due to all the beatings and isolation and emotional trauma he had suffered, and so he decided to live with his mother.

Police of District 6 gave Cuong a cyclo as a tool to make ends meet out of sympathy. But after a while, he got sick and had to sell the cyclo to buy medicine. After dozens of years of working odd jobs, Cuong was no longer able to work, and so entered a pagoda and helped with cooking meals.

"When things got too tough, I would go to a crossroad at midnight and sit there," he said. "People sometimes give me money."

Ever since he was released, Cuong has multiple times filed complaints to the police and prosecutors of District 6, demanding an apology and compensation for the false accusation, but his complaints have remained unanswered.

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