Vietnam Sends Most Senior Communist Leader To Jail Over Corruption

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A major crackdown on top Communist party leaders has some praising corruption punishment — and others wondering if this is just a way for leaders to purge the opposition.

The people of Vietnam are witnessing the hunt of the “sacred cows” — the untouchable figures — which became mysteriously wealthy during the ousted Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung’s 10-year tenure.

A massive crackdown against high-profile executives from banking and energy sectors involved in corruption is underway. Soon after taking control of the office, the conservative fraction of the Communist party pursued the corrupt officials.

Dinh La Thang, former leader of Communist party, was the latest one to face the trial. Thang was accused of economic mismanagement over losses for PetroVietnam, the state’s oil firm. He has been sent to jail for 13 years following the most high-level trial in years, the BBC reported.

The former Politburo member is among the other 20 people who faced corruption charges on Monday at the trial in Hanoi. The culprits were sentenced to jail for three years to as long as nine years.

While some viewed the trial as a part of party’s fight against corruption, others are seeing it as a purge of opponents of leading party officials.

Through these widely publicized trails, Communist party leaders apparently want to encounter any potential opposition from PM Dung’s allies. Also, the party wants to assure the public how serious they are in curbing corruption in the country, which flourished during Vietnam’s rapid economic expansion.

Thang was dismissed from Politburo in May — the third one to be sacked from the party ever since the 1986 economic reforms — after allegations of being involved in “serious violation” that “hurt the Party’s reputation.” Last week, he asked the court for forgiveness, however, he was sent to jail for 13 years.

Trinh Xuan Thanh, another executive from the state-oil firm, was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was accused of embezzlement and of “deliberately violating state regulations on economic management, causing severe consequences." Thanh, who had taken asylum in Berlin, received worldwide attention last year, when Germany accused Vietnam of taking him back by force. Following the alleged incident, Vietnam’s press attaché was expelled from Germany.

Though Thanh later said he returned to the country voluntarily, his lawyers claimed he was forced to give the statement.

Thanh has his second trial on Wednesday where he will face the charges of embezzling public funds, for which he might received death sentence.

Former Chairman of PetroVietnam, Nguyen Xuan Son, was also convicted last year for his involvement in the corruption scandal.

Thumbnail/Banner : Reuters, Kham

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