City tries former officials for defamation; one in absentia

August 7, 2009
(L-R) Nguyen Phi Duy Linh, Duong Tien and Dinh Cong Sat at the trial in Da Nang City Thursday

The trial of three officials and one Da Nang citizen charged with defaming local officials opened Thursday in the central city.

Major-General Tran Van Thanh, former chief inspector of the Ministry of Public Security, was not present due to health problems. He has been charged with “taking advantage of democratic freedom to infringe upon the interests of the state as well as the legal rights of organizations and citizens.”

Prior to the trial, Thanh’s defense lawyers had asked for an adjournment due to his poor health, but the court denied the request.

The other defendants include Dinh Cong Sat, a former major from the Da Nang Police Department, Nguyen Phi Duy Linh, a Da Nang resident, and Duong Tien, ex-chief of the Hanoi bureau of the Cong An Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh City Police) newspaper. They all stand charged with the same crime.

According to the indictment, Thanh instructed his accomplices to disseminate fabricated information against Da Nang leaders from November 2006 to the second half of 2007.

The documents accused top Da Nang officials of committing irregularities, covering up several land scams and wrongfully handling public complaints. Investigators found the allegations groundless.

At the trial, Dinh Cong Sat pleaded guilty on all counts in the indictment by the Da Nang City People’s Procuracy, or the municipal prosecutors’ office.

Sat said Linh had prompted him to spread the fabricated information as part of a plot that included other activities to harm top local officials’ reputations.

He said he never directly received any documents from Thanh as they were all given to him by Linh.

Concerning the complaints Sat filed accusing other officials of corruption, he said he wrote some himself while some were given to him by Linh, which he just read and signed.

Meanwhile, Linh denied all the accusations that he had previously confessed to.

Tien said it was not he who had prompted Sat to spread the fabricated documents to residents in Da Nang.

Tien denied any relationship with Major-General Thanh and Linh.

The trial has already been adjourned twice before and is expected to end today.

Reported by Thanh Nien staff

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