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Charity, health officers could face jail terms in adoption scam


Prosecutors sought jail terms of up to five and a half years for health and charity officers on trial Friday for their involvement in an adoption scam in Vietnam's northern province of Nam Dinh.


Tran Thi Luong and her co-defendants at the Nam Dinh People's Court

The province People's Procuracy, which groups leading provincial prosecutors, recommended five to five and half years in jail for Vu Dinh Khan, director of Truc Ninh District Social Welfare Center, and four and a half to five years in jail for Tran Thi Luong, his counterpart in Y Yen District.

Truong Cong Lich, head of Kien Luong Commune Medical Station in Y Yen District, could face three to three and a half years in jail while Tran Trong Lam, a resident accused of procuring babies for the officers, faced two to two and a half years.

Suspended sentences were suggested for others involved.

The defendants have been standing trial since Tuesday.

Sixteen health staff and charity workers allegedly involved in the operation have been charged with abuse of power for receiving babies from mothers with unwanted pregnancies and then faking documents to have the children adopted abroad for a price.

The accused include former employees of medical centers, the Center for Children With Difficulties in Y Yen District, and the Social Welfare Center of Truc Ninh District, which alone earned nearly US$170,000 from the scam, according to the indictment.

The organizations earned millions of dong each from 2005 to July 2008, prosecutors said.

Dinh Duy Hai, Khan's lawyer, said Khan should be charged only with faking documents, while Luong's lawyer said she had undertaken her role in the adoptions "for the good of the community."

Eighteen suspected members of the alleged ring were indicted and police have put out a warrant for two more suspects still at large.

Sentencing is expected next Monday.

Reported by Thai Son “ Yen Thanh

2009 Sep 25