The defendants at the first instance court. — Photo news.zing.vn
HCM CITY — A man and a woman accused of organising a traffic bribery racket, where police officers were paid off to turn a blind eye to road violations, have had their verdicts overturned, pending further investigations.
The two ring leaders of the gang, Nguyễn Văn Thới, 43, and 37-year-old Lê Thị Cẩm Vân, were sentenced to jail for 14 and nine years respectively by HCM City People's Court in an October first-instance trial last year.
But HCM City’s High-level People’s Court on Monday decided to dismiss the previous verdict while further inquiries into the allegations take place.
They were accused leading a gang of corrupt officers who would ignore traffic violations committed by drivers who are part of a club who had paid money to escape penalties.
The pair had arranged for logos to be printed that could be placed on cars, to signal to the corrupt police officers that these vehicles have paid the protection money and the police officers and inspectors would look the other way.
The scam took place across three localities in the south – HCM City, Đồng Nai and Bình Dương.
According to the indictment, from January 2014 to August 2015, Thới’s gang earned VNĐ23 billion (US$992) through selling logo while Vân’s ring collected nearly VNĐ8 billion.
Thới and Vân were accused of paying nearly VNĐ5 billion and VNĐ630 million, respectively, to traffic police and inspectors.
Eight accomplices were also given prison sentences ranging from one to 10 years.
Nguyễn Cảnh Chân, 46, former traffic police at Đồng Nai Province Police, was sentenced to eight years for “brokering bribery”.
The Jury Board said that there was no evidence against the serving police officers apart from the testimonies and the officers have themselves denied any involvement.
Although the court said the bribery charges were correct, they ordered a retrial and more investigations to determine exactly which police officers were paid off.
The case file showed a list of 79 traffic police officers and traffic inspectors involved. Through the defendant's testimony, the Ministry of Public Security's investigation agency also gathered some evidence including telephone number, and documents recording the amount of money giving and name of officer accepting bribes.
At the appeal trial, a representative form High-level People’s Procuracy said in cases of bribery there must be a person who gave bribes and another person who accepted. It was not reasonable to prosecuted defendants who gave bribes and acted as middleman while ignoring the crime of persons who have taken bribes.
He proposed the Jury Board suggesting the public security ministry's Investigation Agency and Supreme People’s Court to clarify traffic police and inspectors involved in the case. — VNS