The decision of an appellate court to reduce the sentence of a 78-year-old convicted pedophile from three years behind bars to 18 months of probation has been overturned while the judge of the appeals proceedings has been suspended.
Nguyen Khac Thuy, born in 1940, was given a three-year jail term by the court of first instance in Vung Tau City, Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province, in November 2017 for molesting two girls aged six and 11.
The sentence was then reduced to 18 months of probation following an appeals proceeding at the People’s Court on May 11. The judge justified his leniency by citing that the defendant is a Party member.
The decision has since stirred up fierce opposition from the public, with legal experts stating that being a Party member is not a factor for a sentence reduction.
The Superior People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday announced that the ruling of the appellate court had been overturned, requesting that the court of second instance be conducted again.
In Vietnam’s court system, the Supreme People’s Court holds the highest power, followed by three Superior People’s Courts based in Hanoi, the central city of Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City.
According to Quang Duc Tuyen, deputy chief of justice of the Ho Chi Minh City Superior People’s Court, the case has received a lot of attention from the public.
The Ba Ria - Vung Tau People’s Court has been ordered to temporarily suspend the judge who handled the appeal, Tuyen continued.
The responsibility of both the judge and jury will be reviewed, he added.
According to the indictment, Thuy was charged with committing lewd acts on two girls in separate instances in April and May 2014 at the Lakeside apartment complex in Vung Tau.
In the first case, the elderly man touched the sensitive parts of the six-year-old girl and was later scolded and hit in the face by the victim’s father.
In the second incident, the victim was with a friend in her apartment when Thuy arrived and reached his hand through the door to commit lewd acts on her.
Thuy pleaded not guilty to both charges of child molestation, but the first court in Vung Tau City ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convict him. He was then condemned to three years in prison.
However, the appeals court in Ba Ria - Vung Tau ruled that there was not enough evidence to charge him for the second incident, involving the 11-year-old girl, and found Thuy guilty in the first case only. His sentence was thus commuted to 18 months of probation.