Vietnam opens massive bribery trials of officials

A Vietnamese court opened the trial of nine government officials, police officers and businessmen accused of running a football-betting ring that siphoned off millions of dollars in state funds, a court officials said.

Vietnam opens massive bribery trials of officials
A Vietnamese court on Wednesday opened the trial of nine government officials, police officers and businessmen accused of running a football-betting ring that siphoned off millions of dollars in state funds, a court officials said.

The case surrounding the state road-building company known as PMU18 scandalized the country when it first came to light and led to the resignation of the transport minister and arrest of his deputy.

Nearly 200 people packed the courtroom of the Hanoi People's Court on Wednesday morning to catch a glimpse of the proceedings, according to Nguyen Van Hoi, a court officer.

"There are also a lot of curious people gathering outside the court trying to watch the trial," Hoi said.

The leading figure in the trial, expected to last three days, is PMU18's director, Bui Tien Dung.

The indictment of Dung said he bet 750,000 dollars on European football matches. At least some of the money is believed to have come from state funds and there have been reports that millions of dollars went missing from transport projects linked to the company.

Two other PMU18 officers, four policemen and two private businessmen are on trial for being part of the gambling ring or taking bribes to protect it.

Gambling is illegal in Vietnam and organizing it carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. The maximum punishment for bribery is the death penalty.

The scandal forced the resignation of the transport minister last year for not detecting the embezzlement and was a hot topic in the run up to last year's Communist Party Congress.

The case intensified pressure for Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to crack down on graft, which the government has been trying to show it is doing.

DPA
Last Mod: 01 Ağustos 2007, 10:53
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