Vietnamese court upholds jail term for 78-year-old molester

By Hai Duyen   June 1, 2018 | 10:50 pm PT
Vietnamese court upholds jail term for 78-year-old molester
Nguyen Khac Thuy at an appeal court in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province in May 2018. Photo courtesy of Nguoi Lao Dong Newspaper
Verdict preceded by public uproar over 18-month commuted sentence granted by appeals court.

A former banker convicted of molesting children will spend three years in jail after Vietnam’s top court on Friday overturned an 18-month suspended sentence awarded by an appeals court last month.

The commuted sentence was greeted by anger from all sections of the society, and a campaign calling for its review collected more than 50,000 signatures.

The supreme court in Ho Chi Minh City said Friday that it has decided to uphold the three-year jail term awarded at the first trial last November to Nguyen Khac Thuy, who was found guilty of molesting two girls, aged 6 and 11, in the apartment building where he lived.

The decision to uphold the original sentence came just weeks after an appeals court in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau granted Thuy a commuted sentence.

Police in Ba Ria-Vung Tau had launched a criminal investigation in August 2016 after seven families filed complaints saying Thuy had molested their daughters many times since 2012.

Eventually, he was convicted only for his molestation of two girls in 2014.

At the first trial, Thuy repeatedly pleaded not guilty, claiming he was framed. However many residents of the building said they’d seen Thuy making inappropriate advances towards many girls.

Thuy later appealed the sentence. His lawyers said at the second trial that there was no clear evidence that the sexual abuse actually took place. The appeals court agreed to give him an 18-month commuted sentence, saying that he was an elderly citizen with health issues, and a member of the Communist Party who’d contributed to the nation’s banking sector.

Following public outcry, the Ministry of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs proposed that the country's supreme court and top prosecutors to reconsider the result of the second trial, saying Thuy’s crime was especially severe, and a suspended sentence shouldn’t apply.

“Why should we reduce his sentence just because he used to work for a bank, just because he is a member of the Party? And if he is an elder, he should have been a good example,” Le Thi Nga, head of the National Assembly’s Judicial Committee, said at a government meeting last month.

In Vietnam, more than 8,200 cases of child abuse came to light between 2011 and 2015, including 5,300 cases of sexual abuse. In most cases the perpetrators were people having authority over the children, like teachers, school security guards and relatives.

Experts say that loopholes in Vietnam’s legal system unduly prolong sexual abuse cases and even allow them to be buried. The lack of physical evidence and difficulties in collecting testimonies from victims, especially children, are other stumbling factors, they add.

go to top