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Bank explains hiring 'telepath' to search for soldiers' remains

Bank explains hiring 'telepath' to search for soldiers' remains

Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 12:38 GMT+7

The Vietnam Bank for Social Policies that has hired a self-proclaimed telepath to search for remains of soldiers has said it had no interest in a relationship with the telepath, who was arrested on Monday on swindling charges

>> 'Telepath' held for swindling $350,000 by 'finding' soldier remains

Nguyen Hoang Phuong, deputy chairman of the Trade Union of the bank, which hired Nguyen Thanh Thuy to search for the remains of Vietnamese soldiers who died during the Vietnam War, has spoken to Tuoi Tre after police detained Thuy for falsifying findings of remains to pocket US$350,000.

Thuy, 54, and his wife, Man Thi Duyen, 51, were seized at home in Cho Town, Bac Ninh Province on Monday on charges of “swindling to appropriate assets.”

In 1996, the couple were arrested by Bac Ninh police and tried on charges of swindling, appropriating assets, and storing weapons illegally. After serving sentences, they were released. Thuy has since claimed to have extrasensory perceptions that aid him in the discovery of dead soldiers’ remains.

Regarding the fact that the bank set up a fund for the search and hired Thuy to help them, Phuong said, “We conducted the search for humanitarian purposes only, not for self-interest or to benefit from any relations with Thuy.”

Phuong said the fund for the humanitarian work was established in 2012 based on suggestions by many war veterans who wanted the remains of revolutionary soldiers detected and re-buried thoughtfully as a way to show respect and honor for them.

The fund is sourced from the contributions of two day’s salary per year from about 9,000 employees of the bank, Phuong said, adding that the fund is now worth VND70 billion ($3.3 million), from which a reimbursement of VND75 million per set of remains was paid to Thuy.

When asked how they calculated payment, Phuong said Thuy normally charged VND150 million for each set of remains discovered, but after the bank told him that the bank’s search is for humanitarian purposes, Thuy agreed to a total fee of VND75 million.

Phuong answered some other questions from Tuoi Tre:

Q: What is the basis on which the bank selected telepath Thuy to search for soldiers’ remains?

A: The bank selected him after hearing from the public that he had discovered the remains of many soldiers. After four searches conducted for the bank in Dak Lak, Binh Phuoc and Quang Tri, Thuy has found 97 sets of remains. Q: Before Thuy’s arrest, many people had warned that some of the remains found by Thuy were counterfeits. What do you think about the warning?

A: I took part in all four searches led by Thuy. Representatives of local Military Command and the Department of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs also witnessed Thuys’ excavations. During these searches there were no opinions voiced regarding abnormal signs related to the found remains or the excavation sites.

Now that police have arrested Thuy and are investigating his alleged scamming acts, I think everything will be clarified soon.Q: After Thuy discovered soldiers’ remains, was there anybody who required DNA tests of the remains to ensure the bones were correctly identified? A:  For the cases in which people confirmed that the found remains and relics belonged to their relatives, we gave them the remains for burial. For unclaimed remains, we handed them over to local Departments of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs for DNA tests. When relatives of the deceased whose remains were allegedly recovered requested DNA tests, we ordered tests for them.

Only Defense Ministry eligible to search for remains

As assigned by the Government, the Defense Ministry is responsible for directing and organizing the search for remains of Vietnamese revolutionary soldiers, Hoang Cong Thai, head of the Department of National Devotees under the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, told Tuoi Tre.

Individuals and organizations, both home and abroad, should report to the ministry any signs of remains so that the ministry can conduct related surveys, searches and excavations, Thai said.

In brief, under current regulations, only the Defense Ministry is allowed to search for soldiers’ remains, he concluded.

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