Monday , May 27 2024

Appeal hearing opens for 21 defendants in repatriation flight case

The appeal hearing on Monday morning in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

HÀ NỘI — The High People’s Court of Hà Nội on Monday opened an appeal hearing for 21 defendants involved in the repatriation flight scandal during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The case is considered extremely serious with the involvement of multiple public officers in various ministries and state departments, who are accused of abusing their positions to intentionally hamper the approval of repatriation flights, leading to bribery.

The verdict reads: “The amount of bribes was remarkably large, constant and frequent. Defendants are aware that if they grant the companies’ requests, these companies will give them money as appreciation.”

The 21 defendants who filed for appeal include Phạm Trung Kiên (former Secretary to the Deputy Minister of Health); Tô Anh Dũng (former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs); Nguyễn Thị Hương Lan (former Director of the Consular Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs); Đỗ Hoàng Tùng (former Deputy Director of the Consular Department); Vũ Anh Tuấn (former officer at the Immigration Department, Ministry of Public Security); Vũ Sỹ Cường (former officer at the Immigration Department); Trần Văn Tân (former Vice Chairman of Quảng Nam Provincial People’s Committee); Hoàng Văn Hưng (former investigation officer at the Ministry of Public Security); Lê Thị Ngọc Anh (former Central Party External Relations Officer); Nguyễn Hoàng Linh (former officer at the Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia); Đặng Minh Phương (former accountant at the Vietnamese Embassy in Malaysia); and Phạm Thị Kim Ngân (former staff member of the Inspection Magazine, Government Inspectorate).

The list of appealing defendants also include business executives Trần Minh Tuấn (Director of Thái Hòa Construction JSC); Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hằng (Deputy General Director of Blue Sky Company); Lê Ngọc Sơn (General Director of Blue Sky Company); Hoàng Diệu Mơ (General Director of An Bình Tourism and Service Trading Co Ltd); Võ Thị Hồng (Director of Minh Ngọc Trading and Service Aviation Co Ltd); Lê Văn Nghĩa (Director of Nhật Minh Tourism and Catering Services JSC); Trần Thị Mai Xa (Director of MasterLife Company); Phạm Bích Hằng (Deputy Director of Tourist International Co Ltd); and Trần Quốc Tuấn (Director of Việt Nam Trade and Tourism Promotion JSC).

Prior to the hearing, defendant Hoàng Văn Hưng pleaded guilty and submitted US$800,000 as compensation for fraudulent appropriation of property.

Hưng also changed his appeal from claiming innocence to requesting a remission of penalties.

According to the first-instance trial documents, the former investigation officer at the public security ministry was assigned to the repatriation flight case on January 28, 2022.

He was transferred to another position in September of the same year, but continued to give false information to defraud Lê Hồng Sơn and Nguyễn Thị Thanh Hằng (respectively Blue Sky Company’s general director and deputy general director), who paid Hưng to buy their way out of the case.

Nguyễn Anh Tuấn, then the deputy director of Hà Nội City Police, was also involved in Hưng’s fraud.

At the end of the first instance trial, the Hà Nội People’s Court affirmed that even though Hoàng Văn Hưng did not plead guilty, there was sufficient evidence backing his fraudulent appropriation of $800,000, and sentenced him to life imprisonment. — VNS

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