Restaurant owner files for compensation in latest twist to bizzare criminal case

By Quoc Thang, An Hong   April 26, 2016 | 12:01 am PT
Nguyen Van Tan could have never imagined that opening a restaurant directly opposite a police station that also happened to serve food would lead him to face criminal charges, and his case became national headlines.

A few days after his charge of illegally doing business without a license was dropped, Nguyen Van Tan is weighing up the possibility of filing a compensation claim for being wrongfully prosecuted.

However, he has made it clear that all he wants is to reclaim the VND17 million (about $800) he paid fines for various so-called violations, ranging from breaking food safety and hygiene regulations to “illegally doing business without a registration certificate”.

“I don't want to ask for too much because I'm very happy right now. I have asked my lawyer to look into my case. We'll then come to a decision about how to claim compensation. The first step is to get back my VND17 million that I was forced to pay in fines. That amount of money is huge to my family,” said Tan.


Nguyen Van Tan standing in front of his '"Xin Chao" (literaly means "Hello") restaurant. Photo by Quoc Thang

The fact that Binh Chanh district’s prosecutors have withdrawn the indictment against Tan proves the ‘pho’ restaurant owner was unjustly prosecuted, said lawyer Ha Hai from the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, adding that Nguyen Van Tan has enough legal basis to sue the People’s Procuracy of Binh Chanh district for wrongly issuing a criminal indictment against him.

The lawyer has advised Tan to demand financial compensation from those responsible for his suffering, both physical and mental.

Binh Chanh district’s prosecutors must also make a public apology to restore Tan’s reputation, publish a correction statement in a newspaper for three consecutive issues, and publicly withdraw the criminal charges in front of his neighbors and co-workers with local authorities as witnesses.


"Xin Chao" is directly opposite Binh Chanh district's police station. Photo by Quoc Thang

On August 18 last year, Binh Chanh district police accused Nguyen Van Tan of illegally selling food and drinks without a license and made him pay a fine of $800. Tan quickly redeemed the violation and managed to obtain a business registration certificate five days later. However, just one month after the first check, despite the fact that Tan had shut down his restaurant while obtaining food safety and hygiene certificates, the police came back for another check and accused Tan of repeating the offence of “illegally doing business without a license”. On March 11, the district prosecutor issued an indictment against Tan.

The case has provoked public outrage and even prompted the Prime Minister to step in to prevent possible public outcry about an unfair business environment and public doubt over the administration of justice.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last week requested Ho Chi Minh City’s government to intervene and identify the individuals responsible for bringing criminal charges against the restaurant owner.

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