>> Police prosecute child trafficking case at pagoda
The head monk of the Bo De Pagoda has announced that she wishes to continue sheltering children after she has been found not-guilty in the child trafficking case involving the pagoda.
Head monk, Thich Dam Lan
Yesterday, August 12, the head of the Propaganda and Training Commission, Phan Dang Long, said that, even though they had not yet received an official announcement concerning the case, the initial investigation vindicated the head monk, Thich Dam Lan, is no longer viewed as a suspect.
Long commented, however, "Of course she must take some responsibility, since she was in charge of the facility."
After the case became public, a charity group reported to police that they had witnessed at least 11 disappearances from the facility. However, after the investigation, Long attested that most of the children had actually been returned to their biological parents.
Colonel Vu Van Hung, head of the police force of Long Bien District, said that eight children were returned to their parents and one was adopted. The other two are still reportedly staying at Bo De Pagoda. There is still come confusion surrounding the case, however, as there were bad records kept for the children staying at the facility, including duplicate names. Also, the head monk refused to allow reporters to visit the two children who, she claimed, were still residing at the pagoda.
Children at Bo De Pagoda
According to the head monk the pagoda started to take in orphaned, disadvantaged children and those suffering the effects of agent orange in 1989. She also said that there are around 50 children that she can account for who have led fairly successful lives as a result of the services provided by the pagoda.
In 2007, several people with unwanted pregnancies decided to entrust their children to the pagoda.
A staff member of the child care facilities of the pagoda, Nguyen Thi Thanh Trang, has been accused of child trafficking. Thich Dam Lan said Trang should be punished in accordance with the law, and the monks have no involvement in this case.
"I thought that I was doing good. I give people food when they are hungry, a roof over their head when they have none and medical care when they are sick," she said.
She hopes to continue the operation of the orphanage after the investigation and the scandal are settled.