A Vietnamese man who was wrongfully arrested for storing drugs has spent months after his release collecting evidence to prove his girlfriend had planted a stash of heroin in his car to frame him with suspicious help from a police officer.
The evidence supplied by Nguyen Van Thien, 44, to prove himself innocent in the case provides enough grounds for a criminal court in Hanoi to schedule a trial for his girlfriend, 37-year-old Nguyen Thi Van, on charges of “stockpiling narcotics” and “slander” this Wednesday.
According to the indictment, Thien and Van were involved in a romantic relationship when conflicts between them led the woman to devise a plan to throw her boyfriend into jail in 2016.
Van allegedly got in touch with V., a female police officer, and gave her his home address and the license plate number of Thien’s car, telling the officer that her boyfriend would be using the vehicle for transporting illegal drugs.
V. works at an anti-smuggling department under the Ministry of Public Security.
On the morning of October 28, 2016, Van drove Thien to work in his car. After dropping the man off, Van collected a stash of drugs that had been left at a nearby tree by an unidentified “supplier” and put it in the glove compartment of the vehicle.
On the evening of the same day, while Thien was driving Van to a meeting with a client, they were pulled over by police officers, who conducted a search of the vehicle.
Thien was arrested after officers found in his car over seven grams of heroin and 1.4 grams of methamphetamine, which are banned in Vietnam.
Stockpiling narcotics weighing between 0.1 and below 0.5 grams carries a prison term of one to five years, according to Vietnam’s Penal Code.
Thien was released after eight days in police detention as investigators could not find concrete evidence to suggest he was guilty.
“I was determined to collect evidence to bring justice upon those who framed me,” Thien said.
All of his suspicion pointed to Van, with whom he shared real estate properties worth more than VND200 billion (US$8.63 million) in total.
The couple, though not married, had signed agreements dictating that all of these properties were mutual assets and that either of them would own half of the assets’ value.
In June 2016, just four months before his arrest, Thien demanded that they break up due to insolvable conflicts but Van refused.
After his release from prison, Thien was able to retrieve a detailed call history and text messages made from Van’s mobile number as he was the registered owner of the number.
He found that Van had made hundreds of calls and sent numerous text messages to a contact saved as “police," whom Thien suspected to be her accomplice.
Thien then published a post on Facebook, hinting that he had found out who had framed him with the intention of luring Van out into the light.
Van frantically contacted her alleged accomplices to discuss their next moves after reading Thien’s post.
These phone calls and text messages were all recorded by Thien, he said.
On January 30, 2017, Thien told Van that he had known all about her actions and that he would forgive her if she admitted the foul play.
After the confrontation, Van made her confession to Thien through several calls and texts, oblivious to the fact that her boyfriend was having them recorded as evidence.
In February 2017, Thien filed an official denunciation against Van and convinced her to also submit a letter of confession to the Supreme People’s Procuracy of Vietnam, the country’s top prosecutor’s office.
In April 2018, police in Nam Tu Liem District, Hanoi launched criminal investigation against Van for “stockpiling narcotics” and “slander."
Van told investigators she had paid V. VND1 billion ($43,160) to help her throw Thien into jail.
V. has so far dismissed the accusation.
Officers have decided to investigate the two cases separately, citing insufficient evidence to suggest V. had worked as Van’s accomplice in fitting Thien up.