Wrongly jailed citizens compensated after 41 years

By Phuoc Tuan   October 12, 2020 | 06:00 pm PT
Wrongly jailed citizens compensated after 41 years
A falsely jailed citizen (C) receives compensation at the Tay Ninh People's prosecution office, October 12, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Thai Ha.
Two are dead. One of the remaining four is 95 years old as the state compensates six people for suffering wrongful imprisonment 41 years ago.

The six people were given a compensation of VND1 billion ($43,192) each on Monday, nearly a year after receiving a public apology from the People's Procuracy of Tay Ninh, the public prosecuting agency in the southern province.

Vo Thi Thuong, 95, and five family members received the compensation for the physical and mental suffering they had to endure for their wrongful conviction and imprisonment, a stupendous 41 years after it happened.

Two of the six people have already died and the compensation can be claimed by their next of kin.

Thuong said she had agreed to accept the compensation, just a tenth of what she had proposed, because she was very old and had to be hospitalized often.

Of two other former defendants in the case, Nguyen Van Dung, 62, was the first to be acknowledged innocent of the crime in January 2018. He received a compensation of VND615 million ($27,000), though he had filed a lawsuit against the Tay Ninh People's Procuracy for VND40 billion ($1.7 million).

Another former defendant, who has not been named, has refused to accept the sum and has filed a lawsuit to demand a higher compensation.

It was only in April last year that the authorities admitted to have wrongfully imprisoned Thuong and the remaining six people 41 years ago.

Eight people from the same family were detained and placed under investigation in 1979 for an alleged gold theft.

According to the police records, on the evening of July 26, 1979, almost 19 grams of gold were stolen from a rice mill in Bung Binh Hamlet, Trang Bang District.

After the theft was reported to the police, they opened an investigation and arrested Thuong, then 54 years old, and seven of her family members.

They were charged with theft of private property of citizens without any proper evidence. After more than 45 months in prison, all eight defendants were released in 1983 and the case never went to trial.

The wrongful imprisonment had turned the defendants’ lives upside down. They were pushed into poverty and their families suffered separations.

Nguyen Van Dua, deputy head of the People's Procuracy of Tay Ninh Province, admitted that his office and the prosecutors of Trang Bang District were at fault. He said investigators had not complied with the law and collected sufficient evidence, resulting in the unjust imprisonment.

The defendants, meanwhile, had alleged that they were violently coerced into confessing to a crime they had not committed.

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