Lò Văn Huynh, former head of the Department of Education and Training’s division for examination and educational quality management, in court on Friday. — VNA/VNS Photo Hữu Quyết
SƠN LA — The Sơn La People’s Court on Friday sentenced 12 people to up to 21 years in prison for their involvement in the 2018 national high school exam scandal that rocked the nation.
Lò Văn Huynh, former head of the Department of Education and Training’s division for examination and educational quality management got 21 years in jail. Nguyễn Thị Hồng Nga, a former official at the same division, received 19 years and 6 months, while Cầm Thị Bun Sọn, former deputy head of the department’s division for politics and thought, was sentenced to 10 years.
All of them were found guilty of abuse of power and taking bribes.
Trần Xuân Yến, former deputy director of the Sơn La Provincial Department of Education and Training, and Đặng Hữu Thủy, former deputy principal of Tô Hiệu High School, were sentenced to 9 and 8 years, respectively. Nguyễn Thanh Nhàn, former head of testing and quality assurance unit under the department, got 30 months behind bars, while Đinh Hải Sơn and Đỗ Khắc Hưng, officials from the internal political security division under the provincial Department of Public Security, received 24 months and a 3-year suspended sentence. They were charged with abuse of power.
The court also handed down punishments ranging from 30-month suspended sentences to 9 years imprisonment to Nguyễn Minh Khoa, former deputy head of the international political security division; Trần Văn Điện, former librarian at Chiềng Cơi Primary and Junior High School; Hoàng Thị Thành, former chairman of Quỳnh Nhai District’s Farmers Association; and Lò Thị Trường, a resident of Sơn La City.
According to the indictment, the defendants took advantage of their positions and power for self-interest. Via relations with family, friends and colleagues, they colluded to raise the scores of 44 students.
Sơn La reported the country’s lowest average score of 4.21. However, the number of students scoring 9 or above out of 10 in mathematics and physics exceeded those in other localities.
The jury said strict punishment should be handed down to the defendants. Their actions were considered serious and had caused a loss of public trust in examinations and teachers, and raised public concern, it said.
Trần Xuân Yến, as the province’s deputy head of the steering committee for the national high school examination, was accused of receiving information on 13 candidates to alter their scores.
Yến allegedly composed a list of candidates and their desired scores then handed it to Nga to make the adjustments.
On August 6, 2018, Điện asked Nga to raise the test results for four candidates and promised to pay her VNĐ230 to 250 million (US$9,900 to 10,700) each. Nga, Thuỷ and Sơn completed Điện’s request. After the exam, Điện gave Nga VNĐ1.04 billion ($44,780).
When Nga was arrested, her family handed over VNĐ1 billion ($43,000) to the investigating agency.
Huynh was accused of receiving VNĐ300 million ($12,900) to change the test scores of Trường’s son. Although Huynh denied having received VNĐ1 billion from Khoa to increase the scores of two other candidates, the procuracy said they had found evidence to the contrary.
Under questioning, Huynh changed his testimony, saying he had not received money from Khoa and the VNĐ1 billion was from his savings and money he had earned from selling land. Khoa said he had only given Huynh a list of candidates and had not taken bribes to make amendments.
The investigation, however, had enough evidence to show that Khoa gave VNĐ1 billion to Huynh to raise the scores.
Sọn was alleged to have received VNĐ440 million ($18,940) from Thành to increase the test results of one candidate.
Đặng Hữu Thuỷ admitted to pocketing VNĐ500 million ($21,500) from three parents but said she returned the money.
Thuỷ’s actions were consistent with someone "accepting bribes", but apart from her testimony, there was no other evidence to reach a conclusion, according to the jury. — VNS