Six officials jailed in Nam Dinh adoption scam

Date: 2009-09-28

Six health and charity officials in northern Nam Dinh Province involved in an adoption scam were sentenced Monday to jail terms of two to four and a half years.

They were among 16 officials tried for faking papers to have hundreds of babies adopted by foreigners for a price.

The six were found guilty of 'abuse of power in public duty,' said Nguyen Tien Hung, vice-president of the Nam Dinh People's Court.

Vu Dinh Khan, former director of Truc Ninh District Social Welfare Center, was sentenced to four and a half years in jail while his counterpart Tran Thi Luong in Y Yen District got three and a half years.

Truong Cong Lich and Vu Dinh Loi, former heads of two commune medical stations in Y Yen District, got three years and two years respectively, while Vu Van Kiem, accountant and cashier of the Truc Ninh social center was sentenced to two years in prison.

Resident Tran Trong Lam was sentenced to three years in prison for procuring babies for the officers.

Ten others in the scandal received suspended sentences of between 15 and 18 months at the end of a trial which began last Tuesday.

The 16 health staff and charity workers were accused of receiving babies from mothers with unwanted pregnancies and assembling false documents to show they were abandoned. As many as 266 infants were thus adopted by foreigners between 2005 and 2008.

The judges said these actions had defamed the central government and adversely affected its humanitarian policy.

Nam Dinh Province prosecutors last Friday suggested jail terms of up to five and half years for Khan, Luong, Lich and Lam, and suspended sentences of the others.

A total of 18 officers were prosecuted in the case. Local police have put a warrant for two who have escaped since the case was busted July last year, three months after the US embassy in Hanoi reported on endemic baby-selling and graft in Vietnam's adoption system.

Each officer involved in the case earned millions of dong from the adoptions.

Vu Dinh Ky, former head of a commune medical center, received 28 million dong (US$1,593) for faking the documents of 14 newborn children but told the court "it was just to help the babies."

Vu Duc Long, head of the international adoptions department at Vietnam Justice Ministry, said at the time the case was busted that most children put up for overseas adoption from the two Nam Dinh centers went to France and Italy, and some to the US, AFP said Monday.

Reported by Thai Son

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