At first, Nguyen Ngoc Huyen, 19, admitted to repeatedly trading sex for money in 2009, according to the indictment. When her boyfriend, Nguyen Trung Thanh, found out about the other man, he told Huyen to demand more money from him. Otherwise, they threatened to report the man, Tran Minh Son, to police for having sex with a minor.
Over the course of a year, the couple collected eight payments totaling VND1.34 billion (US$64,300) from Son, who did not attend the trial. Son, director of the Da Nang-based Urban Works Investment and Construction Company, reportedly paid the bribe to save face.
But he also called the authorities, who arrested Huyen in May 2011 as she met Son at a café for the last payment of VND150 million. Five days later, police detained Thanh, a 25-year-old from Da Nang’s Son Tra District.
Once in court, Huyen retracted the statement she had given police, instead telling prosecutors that she had never had sex with Son, who was just an acquaintance.
She testified that she was following the directions of Thanh, who she said had instigated the extortion and spent all the money on himself.
Her testimony prompted Thanh to also revoke his statement to investigators, telling the Da Nang city People’s Court that Son had transferred money to Huyen many times.
The judge rejected both revisions as groundless, despite a request from Thanh’s lawyer, Tran Van Hung, to verify Huyen’s previous statements to police.
The court maintained the original evidence and case file, which showed that Thanh was the chief culprit and that Huyen had received money from Son, once in a VND200 million deposit to her mother’s account. Thanh and Huyen both sent their threats to Son via text message.
Hung also asked to have the trial suspended because of Son’s “abnormal” absence yesterday, but the judge replied that Son had made sufficient declarations out of court.