Vietnamese septuaginarian, dogged by allegations, finally charged with child molestation

By VnExpress   March 27, 2017 | 06:34 am PT
Allegations from disgruntled families have sparked a public outcry, prompting the country's president to step in.

Prosecutors in the southern beach town of Vung Tau on Monday ratified child molestation charges against a 77-year-old local man in a high-profile case that prompted the intervention of President Tran Dai Quang.

Nguyen Quang Long, a senior prosecutor of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, home to Vung Tau Town, said the police have gathered enough evidence to press charges against Nguyen Khac Thuy after a seven-month investigation.

In 2016, Thuy was accused of molesting seven girls in the same apartment building in Vung Tau Town for several years, allegedly since 2012. One of the girls was seven years old when her mother reported the case to authorities.

Thuy has been granted bail due to his age.

Police launched criminal probes into the case last August after the seven families lodged complaints saying Thuy, their neighbor, had molested their daughters on a number of occasions.

Earlier this month, President Tran Dai Quang asked the Ministry of Public Security and the Supreme People’s Procuracy, the country's top prosecution agency, to speed up the investigation after local authorities drew widespread flak for dragging feet on the case.

Under Vietnam’s penal code, having sex with a child under 13 years of age is ruled as child rape, which can result in the death penalty, while other acts of child sex abuse are punishable by up to 12 years in jail.

In Vietnam, more than 8,200 cases of child abuse came to light between 2011 and 2015, including 5,300 cases of sexual abuse, according to official figures released a year ago.

In most cases, the perpetrators were people with authority over the children, like teachers, school security officers and relatives.

Vietnam usually allows up to three months for criminal investigations. Serious cases that require more time can be extended, but only with permission from the court.

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