HCMC – The Hanoi People’s Court today, July 28, handed down a 16-year prison term to To Anh Dung, former deputy minister of Foreign Affairs, for receiving bribes from those arranging repatriation flights during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The court said that Dung, 58, was found guilty of accepting huge bribes that sparked public outrage and eroded the trust of the people. Consequently, the court deemed it necessary to impose a more severe sentence than the 12-13-year prison term suggested by the prosecutors.
The court also gave jail terms to 53 other defendants, including 21 individuals guilty of taking bribes, 24 of giving bribes, four of brokering bribes, four of abusing powers while performing official duties, and two of involvement in asset misappropriation fraud.
Among the defendants, four were sentenced to life imprisonment, including Nguyen Thi Huong Lan, former head of the Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Vu Anh Tuan, former official at the Immigration Department under the Ministry of Public Security; Hoang Van Hung, former division head of the Investigation Security Department under the Ministry of Public Security, and Pham Trung Kien, former secretary to Deputy Minister of Health Do Xuan Tuyen.
Notably, Kien received a staggering VND42.6 billion in bribes in 253 occasions. Earlier, the prosecution proposed he be sentenced to death. He got the life sentence probably because he had returned over VND42.2 billion out of the total VND42.6 billion in bribe money he took, according to the court.
Seventeen others were sentenced to 1.5 to 12 years for receiving bribes.
Meanwhile, those found guilty of giving bribes received 15 months of probation or prison sentences of up to 11 years, with the majority of these sentences shorter than recommended by the prosecution.
Starting on July 11, the trial ended after 18 days, with Judge Vu Quang Huy serving as presiding judge.
In April 2020, the Government allowed relevant departments to conduct flights to repatriate citizens who were stranded abroad during the height of the pandemic. Individuals were only required to pay for their airfare and were not charged for quarantine expenses.
However, 25 officials from various ministries, departments, and localities accepted bribes amounting to nearly VND165 billion in the process of issuing flight permits from September 2020 to December 2022. They also abused their powers while performing official duties, causing damages of nearly VND10.5 billion to the State.