Concern over state compensation for wrongful conviction
  • By The Kha | | June 12, 2015 09:38 AM
 >>  Man seeks compensation after 10 years wrongful imprisonment

Vietnam's Supreme Court said an innocent man in Bac Giang Province, who served 10 year's in prison after being wrongfully convicted for murder, should receive VND7.2bn (USD342,850) compensation, the decision attracting criticism for using state money to redress evidentiary failure.

Bac Giang Province People’s Court sentenced Nguyen Van Chan in March 2004 to death, commuted to life imprisonment because of his father's contributions to the revolution, for the murder of Nguyen Thi Hoan in August 2003 at her home.


Nguyen Van Chan released after 10 years in prison due to wrongful conviction

Evidence was presented that footprints "almost" matching Chan's were found near the crime scene, and that he was acting "suspiciously" on the day of the murder. He was arrested six weeks after the crime was committed.

Chan maintained his innocence and made several appeals, reaching the People's Supreme Court in July 2004, which upheld the conviction.

He persisted, and his wife worked continuously for his release, accusing another man, Ly Nguyen Chung, who lived in the same village, of the murder.

The People’s Supreme Procuracy, along with other management agencies, interviewed Chung, who, in October 2013, confessed to killing Hoan during a robbery of her home.

After Chan was acquitted, he filed complaints against a number of government agencies, alleging in part that police threatened to kill him unless he pleaded guilty. He sought VND10bn in damages.

The Supreme Court weighed his claim and awarded him VND7.2bn, to be paid by the state.

It ordered last September the arrest of a prosecutor and a senior police officer in Bac Giang Province on charges of falsifying trial documents.

Le Nhu Tien, deputy head of the Vietnamese National Assembly's Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children, said the state should not be held entirely responsible for the compensation award, and it should be shared by those who caused the wrongful conviction.

Many DTiNews readers have said it is the duty of individuals involved to pay.

"It is unfair when some officials caused the mistakes and the state budget, sourced from people's taxes, is penalised," a reader said.

Tran Viet Hung, deputy head of the Ministry of Justice's Compensation Department, told DTiNews that inspectors and the prosecution did not falsify evidence but made a number of mistakes, which should have been corrected by the court, so the state had to take ultimate responsibility.

Hung said the Compensation Law of January 1, 2010, means no individual can be held liable to pay compensation if they made unintentional mistakes.

Tien said the law should be revised to include individual responsibility for compensation in the event of wrongful convictions.

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