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US-jailed Vietnamese child sex offender fuels public anger over celebratory homecoming

Thursday, December 22, 2016, 11:22 GMT+7

A Vietnamese entertainer convicted of child molestation in the U.S. sparked a fresh wave of fury upon his homecoming on Wednesday after appearing more like a victor than a sex offender.

Hong Quang Minh, aka Minh Beo (Fat Minh), was deported from the U.S. after serving half of an 18-month prison sentence for sexually assaulting a young boy and attempting to commit a lewd act upon a fictitious minor.

A court in California ruled last week that the 38-year-old Vietnamese would be released early after serving half of his sentence, or 270 days in jail.

The Vietnamese comedian and former emcee was deported, as per U.S. law, within 72 hours of completing his 270th day in prison on December 19 (U.S. time).

Minh arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday morning, according to a status update on his Facebook page the same day.

“Thank you all for caring for Minh Beo over the time,” the post reads, using his stage name to refer to himself in the third-person.

“Minh Beo expresses his sincere thanks to all of you.”

Minh Beo reassured his 29,000 Facebook followers that he was “in good health” and ended the status with four heart emojis.

He also posted several photos showing him in the U.S., at the airport, and at home, offending many with his seeming nonchalant smile, ‘thumbs-up’ gesture, and posing next to a car.

TwyMeH2F.jpgMinh Beo poses after his early release from a U.S. jail in this photo posted on his Facebook page.

Many also expressed their fury that Minh Beo appeared to be celebrating his return as if he had achieved great things in the U.S. over the last nine months, despite the fact that he was given a mandatory court order to list himself on the lifetime sex offender registry in California.

At a pre-trial court on August 10, Minh Beo pleaded guilty to one felony count of oral copulation of a minor and one felony count of attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under 14 years old.

Minh Beo was detained since his arrest in late March, after a 16-year-old boy reported being sexually assaulted by him while auditioning for a video project.

The Garden Grove Police Department (GGPD) then sent an undercover officer posing as a fictitious teen to communicate with the defendant while the investigation continued.

Minh was quick to set up a meeting with the officer, whom he believed to be a minor, with the intent to engage in oral copulation. The defendant was subsequently arrested by GGPD.

Critics also complained that Minh Beo’s Facebook status fails to issue an apology to his supporters or convey any remorse for his actions.

4nM6X9kI.jpgMinh Beo after his detain in March. Photo: Orange County District Attorney's Office

Citizen rights ensured in Vietnam

From a legal perspective, many people wonder how Minh Beo’s legal offenses and jail sentence in the U.S. will affect him in his home country.

Dinh The Hung, a criminal law expert, says the U.S. court ruling will have no binding effect on Minh Beo in Vietnam because the two countries have no contract of mutual legal assistance.

“Minh Beo retains all of his citizen rights, including the freedom to travel and perform within the country,” Hung said.

Similarly, lawyer Bui Dinh Hung from the Hanoi Bar Association, said the absence of mutual legal assistance between the two countries means that Minh Beo still has a clear criminal record in Vietnam despite his record in the U.S.

“The U.S. may ask Vietnam to enact special measures to penalize Minh Beo when he is in the country, but as there is no mutual legal assistance, Vietnam has the right to refuse the request,” the Hung added.

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