Berlin taz / https://taz.de/Entfuehrungsfall-Trinh-Xuan-Thanh/!5750514/
Twelve Vietnamese kidnapped a compatriot in Berlin and took him to Hanoi in 2017. Because of this, they just received the country’s Highest Medal.
They have been expelled from Germany or wanted with an arrest warrant. They were honored in Vietnam: those who kidnapped former Vietnamese state official Trinh Xuan Thanh from Berlin to Hanoi in 2017. According to our research, a ceremony to honor 12 kidnappers took place last summer at the Ministry of Public Security in Hanoi.
The photos and text that one of the Medal Prize winners posted on his own on his Facebook page, but was later deleted, show the kidnapping, as the Berlin High Court determined to be correct, organized by Vietnam’s Minister of Public Security To Lam. The plan that this agency implement was coded VT17.
The 12 men received first, second, and third-class medals in a solemn ceremony with commendation signatures from State President cum General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong. This is one of the highest awards in Vietnam.
The First Class Victory Medal was awarded to Nguyen Duc Thoa, who was then a Vietnamese diplomatic officer in Germany and a liaison officer with the General Intelligence Department of the Ministry of Public Security in the embassy. He was expelled from Germany in the summer of 2017 just days after the kidnapping, investigators have made it clear that he has been preparing and helping to carry out the kidnapping at critical times.
The second medalist was Le Thanh Hai, a Vietnamese diplomat in Berlin at that time. German investigators allege he drove the kidnapping victim in a private car from Berlin to the Czech city of Brno, where he handed over the kidnappers to other Vietnamese security officers. When the trial of the abducted accomplice took place at the High Court of Berlin in 2018, the court wanted to try him as a witness. At that time, he was still a recognized diplomat in Germany. However, he did not appear in court, which as a diplomat he has no obligation to do. Le Thanh Hai recorded the commendation ceremony on his personal Facebook page for a while. Intelligence agents sometimes want to enhance their egos.
First, the state broadcaster RTV in Slovakia reported on the commendation. In Slovakia, kidnappings were exploding politically as the victim and several kidnapping accomplices were taken out of the EU on a Slovak government plane borrowed by the Slovak Interior Minister at the time, Robert Kalinak. Kalinak’s role in this abduction is still unclear. Since the change of government in Slovakia in 2020 and the appointment of the new Prosecutor General Maros Zilinka, Slovakia has determined to investigate the same case. According to its author, Tibor Macak, a television reporter has received a lot of responses from investigators: “Since the VT17 kidnapping code became known, Slovakian and German security agencies also had new investigation approach.”
Petra Schlagenhauf, the lawyer of Trinh Xuan Thanh, who was kidnapped and currently serving a life sentence in Hanoi on many economic charges, made a statement in the taz newspaper “Vietnam must end imprisoning my client, this is against international law. This detention violates international law because the Vietnamese government kidnapped Mr. Thanh, who should never have taken him to court.”
The kidnapping caused a serious diplomatic crisis between Berlin and Hanoi.
The German daily Taz published on February 24, 2121, discovered a new secret coded VT17 for the arrest of Trinh Xuan Thanh in Germany.