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Vietnamese hotel owner detained for pillorying official on four wheels

Saturday, February 20, 2016, 10:23 GMT+7

A woman has been detained for questioning by police in southern Vietnam for carrying a banner on her car accusing an official of vandalism. 

The residents of My Tho, a city in Tien Giang Province, stepped out of their houses to quite a scene on Tuesday morning, when a black car driven by a middle-aged woman roamed the streets of their city with a large banner attached to its side.

Printed on the banner was the driver’s accusation of wrongdoing by a local government official.

“Ms Trinh,” it reads, “owner of hotel 2222, firmly demands the prosecution of Ho Van Ba, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of Ward 1, for his leading role in the stealthy vandalism of hotel 2222’s electric wires, causing VND28 million worth of damage (according to Clause 2, Article 141 of the Penal Code).”

It continues, “Ho Van Ba is the older blood brother of Public Security Major Ho Van Phuoc.”

My Tho police responded quickly to the curious display, pulling over the car in question at around 9:00 am on Lo Tap Doan Street.

The female driver was escorted to a police station for further questioning and her car has been temporarily impounded by the police department of Ward 5.

Eyewitnesses at the scene reported that the driver resisted cooperation with police, loudly demanding to know the commander of the arrest and tearing off one of the officers’ insignia, all of which was recorded by police to be used as evidence.

Given the gravity of the situation, the investigative authority has issued a warrant for her detention, Doan Van Thanh, a My Tho police official, said on Tuesday evening.

The woman was later identified as Huynh Thi Le Trinh, 43 years old, owner of hotel 2222 located in Ward 5.

Trinh justified her actions, characterizing them as a means to denounce and publicize the alleged misdeeds of Ho Van Ba (the accused in her banner).

She also mentioned Major Ho Van Phuoc, who she ‘presented’ with a pair of coffins on September 9, 2012 in a show of dissent for his persistent administrative inspections (which have since ceased) of her hotel.

In a brief exchange with Tuoi Tre, Ba said he had heard of the incident, but has not given it much attention and has been carrying on with his work as usual.

“I will leave it to the authorities to handle. No comment,” he said.

Commenting on the allegation made by Trinh, Diep Chanh Thanh, chairman of the People’s Committee of Ward 5, told Tuoi Tre that Ba had nothing to do with Trinh’s claims of the official’s misdoings.

According to Thanh, Trinh’s hotel had some light bulbs wrongly connected to a power line that was being installed so the city had to take them down, citing potential hazards.

Ba was in charge of the power line’s installation, he added, so Trinh wanted him to take responsibility for the damage.

My Tho police said that an official assessment of the damage to Trinh’s hotel was carried out. As the collected evidence did not constitute criminal action, they did not bring the case to court.

Trinh does not appear pleased with the explanation. As of Tuesday afternoon she was still being retained by the investigative authority.

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