At Vietnam’s Biggest Corruption Trial, Some Skeptical Views | 1/8/2018 | Staff
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HANOI/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Vietnam is gripped by its highest profile corruption trial in memory, but some spectators are questioning whether the Communist Party elite in the dock were charged because of infighting in the ruling class or a crackdown on abuse of office.

Onlookers have gathered at the Hanoi People’s Court since Monday for a glimpse of Dinh La Thang, the first politburo member to be arrested in decades, and Trinh Xuan Thanh, a state oil firm executive who Germany says was kidnapped from Berlin by Vietnamese agents.

Court - Handcuffs - Defendants - Clothes - Haircuts

Led to the court in handcuffs along with 20 other defendants, their simple clothes and rough haircuts contrasted with their former well-groomed images as scions of the establishment.

They face charges related to losses of hundreds of millions of dollars at state oil giant PetroVietnam. Reuters was unable to contact either the defendants or the lawyers representing them for comment.

Trial - Voice - Corruption - Vu - Van

“This trial has raised a voice against corruption, but is not effective enough,” said Vu Van Thuong, a 60-year-old retired businessman who was among those outside the court. “Even if embezzled properties are returned, if policies don’t change, then this country will remain poor.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by a Facebook user called Quyet Le Quoc, who wrote: “Who believes this is a corruption crackdown?”

Everyone - Sides - Power - Writer - Trial

“Almost everyone knows that two sides are fighting for power,” the writer said, adding that the accused deserved to be put on trial.

The government says the accused are being tried for mismanagement, embezzlement or both.

Day - Trial - Crowds - Courtroom - Dawn

On the first day of the trial, curious crowds began gathering around the courtroom before dawn and had to be kept back by police. The only reporters allowed inside the courtroom are from state-linked organizations and news about the trial tops bulletins on the strictly-controlled government media.

Vietnam’s fight against corruption intensified last year after the security establishment gained...
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