A former procuracy official tried on Monday for molesting an under-16-year-old girl inside an elevator of an apartment building in Ho Chi Minh City was allowed to leave shortly after his trial opened, as the court decided to return the case file to prosecutors.
The close-doored court in District 4 requested a further investigation be made into the child molestation charge against Nguyen Huu Linh, 61, an ex-procuracy official from the central city of Da Nang.
The judge of Monday’s trial was Nguyen Hai Nam, deputy chief justice of the District 4 People’s Court, while Linh’s attorney was Tran Ba Hoc, a member of the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association.
The trial started at 8:20 am but it was dismissed at around 10:00 am.
The court secretary later announced that the case had been returned to prosecutors so that a further probe could be conducted.
|Nguyen Huu Linh is pictured after exiting the courtroom. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre|
Linh was seen trying to escape a crowd of reporters as he entered the court in the morning.
The alleged sexual harassment occurred at around 9:10 pm on April 1 and was caught on CCTV installed in an elevator of an apartment building in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City.
In the video, Linh could be seen grabbing and kissing a young girl, thought to be somewhere between five and seven years old.
He was visiting a relative who lives at the Galaxy 9 apartment building on the day of the incident.
Linh admitted to hugging and kissing the little girl during an interrogation by police officers, but he claimed his actions were triggered by a combination of alcohol and how “adorable” the little girl was, rather than any sexual desire.
|Reporters wait outside of the courtroom. Photo: H.Diep / Tuoi Tre|
The victim’s family said prior to the trial that they would prefer criminal charges not to be brought against Linh, instead stating they only wanted a formal apology, explaining that the girl was not harmed.
Vietnamese law, however, allows police to overrule the family's wishes and press charges if they see fit. In this situation, clear video evidence of the crime was enough to continue with their indictment.
A mass call for action to be taken against Linh previously ripped through the country after the video clip went viral on social media.
In late May, the People’s Procuracy in District 4 officially charged Linh with molesting a child under the age of 16, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.
He was placed under house arrest in Hai Chau District, Da Nang.