Some lawyers and journalists expressed concern over the possibility that Dak Lak police acted “arbitrarily” when arresting Dr. Pham Dinh Quy, a lecturer at Ton Duc Thang University in charge of slander.
Reply to BBC News Vietnamese, lawyer Phung Thanh Son, director of The Gioi Luat Phap Company and member of Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, said that according to Article 119 of the Criminal Procedure Code, detention is only applied to defendants for very serious crimes and especially serious crimes.
“The crime of slander is not a serious crime, Dr. Quy has a clear workplace, the investigative agency has also searched the accommodation and confiscated his items and computers … there is no reason to detain Dr. Quy if Dr. Quy’s behavior is really enough to be prosecuted,” Mr. Son said.
Lawyer Hoang Cao Sang cited on his personal Facebook some regulations on the protection of whistleblowers and said that “Mr. Quy should be protected in accordance with the law and the Politburo’s Directive.”
Conditions constituting the crime of slander?
Regarding Mr. Pham Dinh Quy’s “urgent arrest” for slanderous behavior according to Article 156 of the Criminal Code, many questions are raised about whether Mr. Quy’s behavior when filing a denunciation against the Secretary of the Dak Lak Provincial Party Committee is to constitute a crime or not.
To answer this, lawyer Phung Thanh Son cites that the conditions to constitute the slander must have the following elements:
– Objectively, there must be a fabrication or spread of things that are known to be false; fabricate other people into crimes and denounce them before competent authorities;
– Criminal purpose: to seriously offend one’s dignity and honor.
Because he does not have Dr. Quy’s denunciation nor Mr. Cuong’s doctoral thesis so lawyer Son can not give a judgment that the police of Dak Lak province prosecute this case right or wrong.
However, Mr. Son commented: “In this case, if there is Mr. Cuong’s doctoral thesis and there is a problem in citing reference sources, Dr. Quy’s denunciation cannot be considered as a fabrication, it is a cognitive difference in discernment.”
Lawyer Son also analyzed further: “It is important that the facts and details that Dr. Quy stated in his denunciation are correct, not the conception and perspective of Dr. Quy about the events. Applying laws that do not allow people to give different perspectives, thoughts, and feelings about certain things, phenomena or events is against the movement and development of society. In short, it is reactionary!”
Dak Lak province police spoke up
Meanwhile, on October 2, the Police Investigation Agency of Dak Lak Police issued a long statement, talking about the arrest and prosecution of Mr. Hoang Minh Tuan and Pham Dinh Quy.
According to the police, “Hoang Minh Tuan and Pham Dinh Quy have both confessed the act of discussing, agreeing, organized crime, intentionally spreading things that are known to be false to seriously offend dignity and honor, causing damage to the legitimate rights and interests of other.”
The statement said, “The testimony of Pham Dinh Quy and Hoang Minh Tuan is consistent with the documents and evidence collected by the Investigation Agency.”
“This is an activity that shows signs of lowering the leadership of the Party, through defaming and slandering the high-ranking Party leaders before the Party Congress at all levels. The process of resolving the case has been carried out by agencies and the proceedings are conducted fairly and objectively, on the point of ‘respect for the law.’”
The Dak Lak provincial police continued that they “are continuing to coordinate with the competent authorities to expand the investigation and strictly punish relevant people in accordance with the law.”
The statement of the Dak Lak Provincial Police affirmed: “The process of handling the case by the authorities of Dak Lak province ensures the motto ‘uphold the law,” fully implementing the proceedings, at the same time asking for directive opinion and consent of the vertical agency at the central level.”
The Ministry of Public Security’s reply
On the evening of October 2, at a regular September Government press conference, Major General To An Xo – chief of the Office of the Ministry of Public Security answered questions about the the incident.
He said the Ministry of Public Security had received reports from the police of Dak Lak province.
“The verification process shows signs of a crime, so on September 19, the Police Department investigating the Dak Lak Police Department issued a Decision to probe a criminal case, prosecute the accused and issue a warrant to arrest the accused one with two-month detention against Mr. Hoang Minh Tuan, born in 1980, on charges of slander, in accordance with Article 156 of the 2015 Criminal Code,” Mr. Xo said.
“During the initial investigation, Hoang Minh Tuan and Pham Dinh Quy initially confessed their violations of law. Currently, the investigating agency is continuing to coordinate with the competent authorities to expand the investigation and handled these two suspects in accordance with the law,” Major General To An Xo information.
Regarding Mr. Quy’s denunciation, journalist Hoai Nam, a former reporter of Thanh Nien newspaper wrote on Facebook: “There is no state agency confirming the denunciation against Secretary Cuong on plagiarism unfounded or false statements because this is a scientific work, it is necessary to have a specialized agency to involve and make a conclusion.”
“In particular, according to documents denouncing Secretary Cuong using 07 other scientific documents copied into his dissertation, these documents are from graduate students in previous years. So, there must be the Scientific Council to carry out research and give conclusions to have enough basis to confirm the false denunciation,” Hoai Nam said.
Dak Lak police said “urgent arrest of Mr. Pham Dinh Quy for slanderous behavior”
The university lecturer denouncing the Dak Lak party secretary kidnapped or invited by Dak Lak police?
At the same time, Mr. Nam also pointed out that the Police Investigation Agency of the Dak Lak Police is only an agency specializing in proceedings, not a specialized scientific agency that has the authority to confirm that Secretary Cuong’s thesis is plagiatized or not.
On his personal Facebook, Mr. Nguyen Duc Hien, deputy editor-in-chief of Ho Chi Minh City Law Newspaper asked who requested the prosecution of the case that led to Mr. Quy’s arrest. Accordingly, journalist Nguyen Duc Hien commented:
“According to Article 155 of the 2015 Criminal Procedure Code, prosecution of a criminal case of slander can only be made at the request of the victim. With the response of the Dac Lak Police, it is possible to understand the victim here is individual.”
“Since the above statement of the Dak Lak police does not specify who the victim is, nor does it specify the number and date of the decision to prosecute the case, I do not know who the victim is. Only one thing for sure: If the content the Dak Lak police’s notice is correct, the case was prosecuted at the request of someone, leading to the arrest of Dr. Quy.”
However, Mr. Hien also cited the law that the victim’s request for prosecution is a condition, not a basis for prosecuting a criminal case.
When to arrest people urgently?
According to Article 110 of the Criminal Procedure Code, one of three cases where the investigating police agency is allowed to detain people in an emergency is: “if there are traces of criminals in the person or at the residence, workplace or on the of a person suspected of committing a crime and deeming that it is necessary to immediately prevent such person from escaping or destroying evidence.”
However, lawyer Phung Thanh Son also pointed out that: “When it is necessary or not, the law does not specify clearly, so it is easy to detain people arbitrarily.”
Lawyer Son added: “When executing a detainment order in an emergency, you must comply with the provisions of Clause 2, Article 113 of the Criminal Procedure Code. That means you must read the order, explain the order, make a record with the presence of representatives of the commune, ward and town authorities where the arrest, arrest, and other people witnessed.”
If they arrested Dr. Quy without reading the order, explaining the order, making a record, without the witness of the ward authorities where Dr. Quy is held, without the witness of other people, the detention is illegal, lawyer Son explained.
Speaking to the BBC on September 29, Mr. Pham Dinh Phu, the brother of Dr. Pham Dinh Quy, recounted: “Around 6 pm on September 23, my brother and his wife had dinner at D1 Street, when a group of 8 people wearing casual clothes caught him. His wife was forced to sign an undisclosed commitment about the raid.”
According to Mr. Phu, this is a kidnapping, not being invited to coordinate the investigation because “this raid was not notified or invited to work under the temporary detention decision as prescribed by Vietnamese law.“
On September 30, Mr. Pham Dinh Trang confirmed to the BBC that he had just received a notice from the Police Investigation Agency of Dak Lak Police about the arrest of his son, Dr. Pham Dinh Quy in the evening of September 23.
According to Article 116 of the Criminal Procedure Code, within 24 hours after holding the detainee, the investigating agency must notify the detainee’s family, the commune, ward or town authority where such person resides or agencies and organizations where the person studies and works.
“However, if such notice obstructs the arrest of another subject or obstructs the investigation after the obstruction is no longer available, it must be notified immediately. As long as it is considered an obstruction, the law does not stipulate. The determination of the criteria is not clear, so the investigating agency has full authority on this reason to justify the violation of its proceedings,” lawyer Son analyzed.
On his personal Facebook, Mr. Chau Doan also commented on the urgent arrest of Dr. Pham Dinh Quy and his student Hoang Minh Tuan after denouncing Bui Van Cuong, secretary of the Dak Lak Provincial Party Committee, plagiarism of his doctoral thesis. He said: “I did not know them before, but this contradictory incident made me feel insecure because of the serious abuse of power by the Dak Lak police. Society wants to move towards justice, civilization, and uphold the law then power cannot be used arbitrarily like that. The even more sad thing is that the media also entertained to justify this arrest as justified, they said that this was an urgent arrest for people being temporarily detained, not arrested. For me, there are twisted words, nature is the same.”
On Facebook, some people like lawyer Nguyen Duy Binh worry that this will lead to a “dangerous precedent.”
Attorney Hoang Cao Sang also spoke on his personal Facebook about the rights of whistleblowers. Lawyer Sang quoted the Politburo issued Directive No. 27-CT / TW on strengthening the Party’s leadership in the protection of discoverers, whistleblowers, and fighters against corruption and waste.
Accordingly, Mr. Sang said that Mr. Quy should be protected in accordance with the provisions of the law and the Directive of the Politburo.
Previously, Dak Lak police on September 30 announced to the press in Vietnam that Ton Duc Thang University lecturer Pham Dinh Quy (39 years old, residing in Ho Chi Minh City) was urgently arrested for slander under Article 156 of the Criminal Code.
On September 19, Dak Lak province police prosecuted the slanderous case under Article 156 of the Criminal Code, but after several days, they announced this prosecution.