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Three officials get life term in Covid repatriation flight case

The Saigon Times

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HCMC – Pham Trung Kien, former secretary to a deputy minister of health, and two other officials have been sentenced to life in prison for taking bribes in the Covid-19 repatriation flight scandal.

The Hanoi People’s Court today, December 27, rejected the appeals and upheld the life sentences handed to Pham Trung Kien, Vu Anh Tuan, former official at the Immigration Department at the Ministry of Public Security, and Nguyen Thi Huong Lan, former head of the Consular Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The three defendants received huge bribes that sparked public outrage and eroded the trust of the people. Kien was found taking VND42.6 billion in bribes, Tuan VND27 billion, and Huong Lan VND25 billion.

Vu Sy Cuong, former immigration officer at the Ministry of Public Security, had his appeal rejected, with his sentence of nine years in prison upheld.

Hoang Van Hung, former head of Division 5 of the Investigation Security Department under the Ministry of Public Security, admitted his violations and returned VND18.8 billion in bribes he had got. He had his sentence commuted from life imprisonment to 20 years in jail.

Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs To Anh Dung had his sentence reduced from 16 years to 14 years in prison, while ex-deputy head of the Consular Department Do Hoang Tung was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

To ensure the fairness and demonstrate leniency, the court reduced sentences for two individuals who did not file appeals, namely Nguyen Anh Tuan, former deputy director of Hanoi Police, and Tran Viet Thai, former Ambassador of Vietnam to Malaysia.

The verdict said that the repatriation flight scandal was a serious case that occurred at various ministries and localities. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many officials who were involved in the process of granting flight permits showed signs of corruption, accepting bribes from businesses to ease the permit issuance process.

A total of 54 defendants related to the case were brought to court, including 21 officials from different ministries and localities, mainly accused of accepting bribes. The amount of bribes totaled up to VND165 billion.

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