Ex-Viet oil exec ‘kidnapped’

HANOI: A former Vietnamese official allegedly kidnapped from Germany will go on trial in Hanoi in January on corruption charges, officials said, a high-profile case that could see the ex-oil executive put to death.

Vietnam’s communist government has jailed or arrested scores of former officials, bankers and state executives this year as part of a sweeping anti-corruption crackdown that some observers say is driven by political infighting.

But Trinh Xuan Thanh’s brazen Cold War-style kidnapping from a Berlin park by Vietnamese security agents in July stunned many inside and outside the one-party state, sparking a diplomatic dust-up that Germany called a “scandalous violation” of its sovereignty.

Hanoi had sought Thanh, the former head of state-run PetroVietnam Construction (PVC), for mismanagement and embezzlement causing massive losses.

Vietnamese officials said he returned home voluntarily to face the charges.

But German authorities said he was kidnapped on their soil, where he had sought asylum.

Thanh will face trial on Jan 8, alongside the former head of PetroVietnam and ex-politburo member Dinh La Thang, a court clerk said.

As head of PetroVietnam, Thang allegedly carved out a deal with Thanh – then chairman of the construction subsidiary of PetroVietnam – to build a thermal power plant.

The deal allegedly caused losses of US$5.2mil (RM21mil) for the state.

Thang and Thanh face 20 years in jail for mismanagement, while the former PVC head Thanh faces an additional charge of embezzlement, which carries the death penalty. — AFP

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