“Bribing” journalist Hoang Khuong tried today

Posted on September 6, 2012

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The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court this morning opened the hearing of Tuoi Tre journalist Hoang Khuong on charges of bribing a former police officer last year.

Police escort Hoang Khuong to the court room (Photo: Tuoi Tre)

The trial would have taken place on August 30-31 if the journalist’s defense lawyer had not requested that the court delay it since he had to attend the appeal hearing for the corruption case at Vinashin in Hai Phong at the same time.

Besides the 37-year-old journalist, whose real name is Nguyen Van Khuong, five other defendants are also tried, including Huynh Minh Duc, a former traffic police officer in Binh Thanh District; Ton That Hoa, director of Duy Nguyen Private Enterprise; Tran Anh Tuan, vice director of Tan Hai Phong Co Ltd; Tran Minh Hoa, the owner of a motorcycle impounded by the Binh Thanh police; and Nguyen Duc Dong Anh, who is Khuong’s wife’s brother and a friend of Hoa’s.

Duc and Ton That Hoa have been charged with taking bribes and bribery broking respectively, while the others have been indicted for giving bribes.

The trial is chaired by Nguyen Thi Thu Thuy, deputy chief judge of the court, and lawyer Le Trung Hoai, from the HCMC Bar Association, will defend Khuong during the hearing, which is expected to last for two days.

Thought the trial is held publicly, but only those who get an invitation or summon from the court can attend the event, the court said.

The Tuoi Tre’s Editorial Board has not been invited or summoned to the hearing although lawyer Hoai had many times asked the court to invite the board as an agency whose rights and interests are related to the case.

As previously reported, the bribery incident involving Khuong occurred in June 2011 and was exposed in Tuoi Tre’s Vietnamese-language daily newspaper on July 10, and on TuoiTreNews (tuoitrenews.vn) under the title “Traffic cop takes bribe to return bike” the same day.

Khuong, who has been detained since February 2, has claimed that he did not bribe anyone and that he only made the mistake of handing VND15 million (US$720) to Duc, a police officer, on behalf of traffic violator Tran Minh Hoa – an action that was only aimed at obtaining enough evidence for an exposé story about Duc’s corruption.

After reviewing Khuong’s actions, the Tuoi Tre Editorial Board reprimanded and suspended him.

Meanwhile, the prosecutor’s office said that Khuong had suggested the bribe and handed the money to Ton That Hoa so that Hoa could give it to Duc in exchange for his help in releasing Tran Minh Hoa’s motorcycle that had been impounded in a traffic violation case.

Khuong’s acts were for his personal interest and beyond the scope of necessary journalistic activities that serve coverage, the office said.

On March 20 lawyer Hoai demanded that proceeding agencies suspend the investigation against Khuong, arguing that Khuong had committed shortcomings during his coverage against a corrupt traffic police officer, but such mistakes did not constitute a criminal offense.

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Posted in: Corruption, Politics