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Vietnam court upholds jail term for retired official convicted of child molestation

Wednesday, November 06, 2019, 16:04 GMT+7
Vietnam court upholds jail term for retired official convicted of child molestation
Nguyen Huu Linh leaves the appellate court in Ho Chi Minh City on November 6, 2019. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

A court in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday upheld an 18-month jail sentence for a retired Da Nang official convicted of molesting a child in an elevator in early April.

In August, Nguyen Huu Linh, a former procuracy official from Da Nang, was condemned to 18 months behind bars by a court in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City for sexually attacking a person under 16 years old.

Linh, 61, appealed the court ruling immediately after the trial, insisting that his action did not constitute child molestation.

At the appellate court of the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on Wednesday, judges rejected the appeal and upheld Linh’s prison sentence.

Linh remains free for now as he is given seven days to present himself to authorities in Hai Chau District, Da Nang, where he will serve his sentence.

If he fails to show up before the deadline, coercive measures will be taken to execute the sentence in accordance with Vietnamese law.

Linh has filed for a cassation review to the chief justice of the People’s High Court in Ho Chi Minh City, insisting innocence and demanding that the appellate court’s ruling be overturned.

The retired official was caught on CCTV grabbing and kissing a little girl, about seven years old, inside an elevator at the Galaxy 9 apartment building in District 4, Ho Chi Minh City on April 1.

Although Linh’s back was turned to the camera, obscuring his left hand which was positioned in front of the young girl, judges who presided over his first trial in August decided it was enough evidence to convict him of child molestation, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

A mass call for action to be taken against Linh previously ripped through the country after the CCTV footage 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.

He was placed under house arrest in Hai Chau District, Da Nang.

The victim’s family said in late June that they would prefer criminal charges not to be brought against Linh, instead stating they only wanted a formal apology because the girl was not harmed.

Vietnamese law, however, allows police to overrule the family's wishes and press charges where they see fit.

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