Mother gets death certificate for living toddler

By Ngoc Oanh   May 24, 2022 | 06:14 pm PT
Mother gets death certificate for living toddler
Nguyen The Dung talks about the journey to find his son, who was hid away by his ex-wife. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Oanh
A woman in the Central Highlands applied for a death certificate for her three-year-old son though he was still alive because she didn't want her ex-husband to visit him.

Nguyen The Dung, 41, who lives in Kon Tum Province, said Tuesday that he found his son days after his ex-wife Phuong showed him their son's death certificate.

"He's still healthy, just a little shy. In the near future, I will request the court to change our custody arrangements," he said.

Dung married Phuong in 2018. Their son was only a couple months old when they got divorced. Phuong got custody of their son.

In 2019, Phuong said she couldn't "raise him", so Dung brought his son back with him.

Late April this year, Dung brought his son to Dak Lak for some treatment and asked his maternal grandmother (Phuong's mother), who lives nearby, to take care of the boy for a few months so he could return to Kon Tum for work.

However, earlier this month, when Dung tried to video call his ex-wife to see his son but failed, he went to see him in person. Upon meeting him, Phuong gave him their son's death certificate, issued by local authorities, and told him the boy was dead.

Dung didn't believe her, so he posted the info on the Internet, announcing his search for his son and approached authorities to figure out what was happening.

Nguyen Ngoc Nha, deputy chairman of Tan An Ward in Dak Lak, said Phuong had come to the ward on May 11 to inform them that her son died a week earlier due to pneumonia and asked for a death certificate. Phuong seemed sad and was crying at the time, so officials believed her and did not verify the boy’s death as they were supposed to do. He admitted that the process was faulty.

Police then summoned Phuong for questioning. She confessed that she and Dung fought every time he returned to visit their son. There was one time when she was beaten by her ex-husband, so she thought of getting a death certificate for her son so Dung would stop coming. The boy was sent to an acquaintance.

Dung said he and his ex-wife had conflicts, but he never beat her. After days of intervention by local authorities, Dung found his son living with the acquaintance of Phuong.

Pham Dinh Trung, chairman of the Tan An Ward People’s Committee, said the falsely issued death certificate would be voided. He said local authorities would take follow-up action against Phuong for signing a death certificate for a living person, and also deal with personnel responsible for the incident.

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