The Berlin Excessive Courtroom has sentenced Le Anh Tu to 5 years in jail for his half within the kidnapping of a former Vietnamese provincial official.
Tu, 32, was dwelling in Prague earlier than the July 2017 kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Than in a Berlin park. He fled to Vietnam, and was arrested 5 years in a while his return to the Czech Republic.
“This trial lasted three months,” Berlin-based freelance journalist Hieu Ba Linh advised RFA after Monday’s sentencing. “The court docket sentenced defendant Le Anh Tu to 5 years in jail on two counts. The primary crime is espionage. The second is taking part within the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan.”
Linh noticed your complete trial from the courtroom and mentioned the prosecution introduced a number of proof to show Tu participated within the kidnapping. The proof confirmed that Tu tailed Trinh Xuan Thanh and his companion Do Thi Minh Phuong when she arrived from Hanoi to satisfy him. He was additionally the driving force who introduced the 2 to the Vietnamese Embassy after they had been kidnapped by the Vietnamese secret service.
The prosecution mentioned he additionally drove one other car in a convoy taking the 2 from Brno within the Czech Republic to the Resort Borik in Bratislava.
Within the Slovakian capital, Vietnamese Public Safety Minister Nam To Lam was ready for him, the court docket heard.
“Hotel Borik is owned by the Slovak Government. There, To Lam’s delegation met with the Slovak Ministry of Interior to talk. Actually, this talk was just a step towards bringing Trinh Xuan Thanh back to Vietnam,” Linh mentioned.
“To Lam borrowed a Slovakian aircraft to get out of the Schengen space and fly to Moscow. The assembly with the Slovak Ministry of the Inside was aimed toward bringing Trinh Xuan Thanh out of the Schengen area.”
Le Anh Tu is the second defendant convicted by a German court docket for taking part within the kidnapping. The primary was Nguyen Hai Lengthy, who was sentenced to a few years and 10 months in jail in 2018.
Reporter Hieu Ba Linh mentioned Lengthy obtained a lighter sentence as a result of he pleaded responsible to “participating in the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh” and admitted to “working for the Vietnamese intelligence agency,” whereas Le Anh Tu and his lawyer denied the crime.
“Within the case of defendant Le Anh Tu, from the very starting, the court docket advised to plead responsible and the court docket additionally mentioned that it could take into account a decrease sentence if he pleaded responsible. Nevertheless, Le Anh Tu didn’t comply with plead responsible,” Linh mentioned.
Le Anh Tu’s lawyer mentioned Tu performed a passive function within the kidnapping as a result of he was solely the driving force.
Nevertheless, the prosecution introduced proof that Tu was in direct contact with Lt. Gen. Duong Minh Hung of the Vietnamese police, who got here from Vietnam to Berlin to guide the kidnapping.
Thanh was vice chairman of Vietnam’s Hau Giang province earlier than being investigated in 2016 for “deliberately violating State regulations, causing serious consequences,” He fled to Germany and utilized for asylum earlier than being prosecuted.
A 12 months later, Thanh appeared on Vietnamese tv saying he had returned to Vietnam to show himself in. Vietnamese authorities by no means mentioned how he returned from Germany.
Hieu Ba Linh mentioned, though two individuals have been convicted of his kidnapping it is vitally unlikely Thanh might be launched by Vietnamese authorities and returned to Germany.
He mentioned throughout Tu’s trial, the court docket wrote a letter requesting the German International Ministry to replace it on Thanh’s standing in Vietnam. The ministry mentioned certainly one of its officers met Trinh Xuan Thanh privately on the sidelines of a trial in Hanoi during which he was a witness, however supplied little hope to the court docket.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that so far there is no indication that Vietnam will release Trinh Xuan Thanh,” Linh mentioned.
Final November, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz introduced up the case throughout a gathering with Communist Social gathering Normal Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh in Hanoi however nothing got here of the talks.
RFA emailed Trinh Xuan Thanh’s private lawyer, Petra Isabel Schlagenhauf, to request remark however didn’t obtain a reply.
Translated by RFA Vietnamese. Edited by Mike Firn