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Parliamentary questions
18 June 2001
Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

The Commission has been informed that Mr Vinh Binh Trinh was convicted in the first instance by the Ba Ria - Vung Tau People's Court to 13 years of imprisonment and severe fines on charges of bribery and violation of the regulations on land management and protection. Mr Trinh appealed the decision of the Vung Tau People's Court to the People's Supreme Court of Ho Chi Minh City. The case was heard on 4 and 5 May 1999, when the Court upheld the decision of the Court of first instance, at the same time reducing the prison sentence to 11 years. Mr Trinh was awarded bail on medical grounds, but failed to report at Vung Tai prison by the due date of 30 September 1999. It is reported that he has fled the country for Thailand.

The Commission is not in a position to make any comment on the conduct of the case. It understands that Mr Trinh received consular assistance initially from the Dutch Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City and subsequently from the Dutch Embassy to Vietnam, and has been advised to consider the available options of a further appeal, which is open to him under Article 242 of the Criminal Law of Vietnam, or a request for grace on humanitarian grounds. An appeal must be lodged in person and, since the warrant for his detention remains in force, Mr Trinh would face immediate imprisonment should he return to Vietnam.

The other cases referred to in the question apparently concern individuals who have been granted early release under general amnesties for serving prisoners. Such amnesties do not apply to persons who are not in prison.

The Commission is not aware that the case of Mr Trinh has had any impact on European investment in Vietnam or on relations between Vietnam and the Union. Together with other donors, the Commission regularly participates in the ongoing dialogue between foreign investors and the Government of Vietnam, where the various concerns of investors are fully discussed. In this context, concerns about certain elements of corruption in Vietnam have been raised, and both investors and donors have expressed support for the efforts of the Government of Vietnam to deal with this problem.

OJ C 350 E, 11/12/2001 (p. 95)
Last updated: 9 January 2002Legal notice