Tuesday, October 14, 2008
HANOI: A Vietnamese journalist pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of abusing power by writing false stories about a state corruption scandal two years ago that forced the resignation of the transport minister.
Nguyen Van Hai, a journalist at the Tuoi Tre (Youth) paper, was standing trial with Nguyen Viet Chien from Thanh Nien (Young People) paper, and two former senior policemen who are alleged to have acted as sources for the reporters.
The two journalists were accused of “abusing free and democratic rights to breach the interest of the State and legal rights of organisations and citizens.”
They were arrested in May and indicted for “abuse of power” by spreading “false information.”
Former police Major-General Pham Xuan Quac, who used to be director of the Social Order Crime Investigation Department, and former Lieutenant-Colonel Dinh Van Huynh, are accused of “intentionally disclosing secrets.”
Quac, Huynh and Chien pleaded not guilty.
The scandal erupted at a transport ministry agency that builds roads and bridges with foreign aid. The agency has been investigated since 2005 after officials were accused of embezzling state money and using it to fund a lavish lifestyle and betting on European football.
(Reporting by Jan Dahinten)