Ha Giang Province’s Supreme People’s Court this morning upheld the 9-year sentence handed down to Sam Duc Xuong, a former high school principal who paid for sex with minors.
Sam Duc Xuong was escorted to the courtroom this morning Photo: Tuoi Tre
In the appeal hearing that ended at noon, the court rejected Xuong’s appeal against the verdict handed down by the provincial People’s Court on March 10, concluding that the testimonies of the other defendants at the first instance trial matched the lower court’s evidence for Xuong’s offense. Xuong’s appeal was thus deemed unacceptable.
Xuong’s lawyers, Nguyen Dinh Xuan and Dinh The Hung, argued that the lower court’s decision was null because the investigators had seriously violated criminal procedures such as making changes in the case file and forcing confessions from the defendants.
The lawyers also questioned the higher court why it didn’t summon Xuong’s victims and the 16 people who received the same charge as Xuong.
Sam Duc Xuong at the appeal trial conducted by the Supreme People's Court in Ha Giang Province this morning
The higher court, chaired by Judge Vu Xuan Khoi, rejected this argument and said that the absence of these people did not affect the result of the appeal hearing.
The lawyers said they did not accept the higher court’s decision and would continue to appeal.
According to the lower court’s indictment, Xuong was found guilty of paying to have sex with female students from 13 to 18 years of age from July 2008 to August 2009.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Hang, 19, and Nguyen Thanh Thuy, 18, were also charged with procuring underage and virgin girls for Xuong and his friends.
Xuong paid a virgin VND3-4 million (US$146-194) for one night’s sex and paid his brokers VND500,000 for every girl they brought him.
Xuong's lawyers at court, who said they would appeal against the judgment of the Supreme People's Court
After the case was uncovered in September 2009, the investigators suspected that Nguyen Truong To, former chairman of the Ha Giang Province People’s Committee, and 15 other high ranking officials also paid for sex with minors sourced from Hang’s and Thuy's underage sex ring.
Hang, Thuy and some of Xuong’s victims later provided a list of the names of the 16 officials to the police.
The list included Dinh Xuan Hung, director of the Ha Giang Province Social Policy Bank and three provincial police officials.
Last year, however, the local prosecuting office dropped the charges against these people, explaining there was not enough evidence.