Vietnam’s response to accusation of fugitive Trinh Xuan Thanh kidnap in Germany

Vietnamese authorities are still investigating the case after Trinh Xuan Thanh turned himself in on Monday

Le Thi Thu Hang, spokesperson of Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Vietnam has expressed its discomfort at a recent statement from the German foreign ministry, which requested a Vietnamese embassy officer to leave Germany in response to the alleged kidnap of a former Vietnamese oil executive in Berlin.

Thursday’s regular meeting of the Vietnamese foreign ministry in Hanoi was overshadowed by questions regarding Trinh Xuan Thanh, a fugitive who turned himself in to police on Monday after hiding overseas for nearly a year.

Thanh, a former provincial leader and ex-chairman of a state-run Vietnamese company, has been criminally charged for his role in the firm’s incurring massive losses.

According to an AP report on Wednesday, the German government accused Vietnamese agents of kidnapping an ex-oil executive in Berlin, apparently referring to Thanh, and consequently demanded that an officer of the Vietnamese Embassy in Germany leave the country within 48 hours

During Thursday’s meeting, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper asked Le Thi Thu Hang, spokesperson of the Vietnamese foreign ministry, to comment on the report and elaborate on her ministry’s reaction.

In response, Hang said she “feels sorry about the statement from the spokesperson of the German foreign ministry in regard to Trinh Xuan Thanh on August 2.”

An AFP correspondent also questioned Hang as to whether Vietnam confirms the accusation that it had kidnapped Thanh in Berlin and whether the incident would affect the Vietnam-Germany relations. The reporter also asked the spokesperson about the whereabouts of Thanh.

German news agency DPA requested Vietnam’s reaction to reports which quoted Thanh’s attorney in Germany as saying that the ex-oil executive was seeking asylum in the European country.

Responding to those questions, Hang said: “According to a July 31 announcement from Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security, Trinh Xuan Thanh gave himself up to the police. Competent Vietnamese agencies are investigating the case.”

The spokesperson added that Vietnam always respects and keeps developing its strategic partnership with Germany.

Also on Wednesday, the German foreign ministry said in an official statement that the Vietnamese government should bring Thanh back to Germany so the European country could start processing a Vietnamese request to extradite him, as well as his asylum application.

Trinh Xuan Thanh is the former deputy chairman of the administration of Hau Giang Province and the former chairman of PetroVietnam Construction JSC (PVC), a subsidiary of state-run oil and gas giant PetroVietnam.

He is among six individuals probed on charges of “intentionally violating state regulations on economic management that caused severe consequences,” for causing massive losses of approximately US$147 million at PVC.

An international wanted notice was issued for Thanh in September 2016.

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