Retired judge arrested in Vietnam’s notorious wrongful conviction

By Thai Son – Duc Hoa, Thanh Nien News
Bac Giang – Wednesday, October 01, 2014 14:32

A retired Supreme People’s Court judge in Bac Giang Province has been placed under house arrest while police investigate him for having sentenced a man to life in a prison for a murder he did not commit.

Pham Tuan Chiem is now officially under investigation for the crime of gross negligence, according to the highest prosecutorial office in the country.

The 65-year-old resident of Hanoi’s Gia Lam District was placed under house arrest on Tuesday.

Chiem presided over the trial of Nguyen Thanh Chan on July 27, 2004, which upheld a life sentenced imposed on the rural farmer who was then a resident of Viet Trung Commune, Viet Yen District, Bac Giang Province.

Chan had been convicted of murdering and robbing a local woman.

He was released on November 4, 2013, after spending over ten years in prison.

Chan, now 53, told local media that he had been tortured during the course of the police investigation and was forced to confess to the crime.

Prosecutors say Chiem’s failure to review the relevant documents and repeated violations of judicial procedure led to Chan’s conviction.

In addition to Chiem, police are investigating Dang The Vinh, formerly of the Bac Giang Prosecutor’s Office and Tran Nhat Duat, a former officer with the Viet Yen District police.

Chan’s wrongful conviction only came to light after his wife, Nguyen Thi Chien, spent years investigating the murder.

Her efforts led to the arrest of 26-year-old Ly Nguyen Chung, who moved to the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak in 2004.

Chan’s wife allegedly learned of Chung’s guilt after his step-mother mentioned it during a dispute with his birth mother.

On September 29, 2014 the Bac Giang People’s Court suspended proceedings against Chung following a request from the victim’s mother, Nguyen Thi Hoi, and her son Nguyen Xuan Tien.

Hoi has demanded that the defendant support the deceased’s 12-year-old child Nguyen Van Duc until he reaches the age of 18.

During the trial, the family’s attorney, Giap Van Diep, requested retroactive support for the victim’s other child — who is now 24 — for the period when he was under 18.

As Chung was escorted out of the court room, a number of spectators managed to slap him in the face.