The trial of another Vietnamese man accused of being a secret agent involved in kidnapping Trinh Xuan Thanh is expected to take place in the coming months. At that time, once again the evidence that the Vietnamese government is the mastermind of this case will be presented to the court.
The lawyer defending the rights of Mr. Trinh Xuan Thanh commented to Radio Free Asia like that and said that Vietnam had never mentioned the kidnapping case before, but also never denied the accusations of the German court and government.
Vietnam cannot deny the act of organizing the kidnapping
Ms. Petra Schlagenhauf, Mr. Trinh Xuan Thanh’s lawyer, replied to RFA via email that the fact that the Vietnamese government organized the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh in July 2017 was an issue that was mentioned in the first court hearing of Nguyen Hai Long, one of the “actors” who took part in the abduction.
The trial took place in Berlin, the German capital in the summer of 2018. Mr. Nguyen Hai Long was found guilty of working as a secret agent for Vietnam and participating in the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh, but to a worse extent because Mr. Thanh was deprived of his liberty for more than seven days. Therefore, Nguyen Hai Long was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison.
The German lawyer added that this trial presented a lot of evidence that this kidnapping was carried out by the Vietnamese government. The Vietnamese side has never admitted to kidnapping, but they can’t deny that evidence, as well as the German court’s conclusion.
“I think a trial of Mr. Le (Le Anh Tu – PV) will take place at the Berlin Supreme Court in the coming months. At that time, these evidence will once again be presented by the court. And so, this kidnapping case receives public attention again.
So far, Vietnam has never admitted that it was a kidnapping case, but they also cannot deny these evidence and the Court’s conclusions (in the first trial, Mr. Nguyen Hai Long provided remedial measures, and even the German Supreme Court confirmed the verdict against Mr. Long).
Mr. Le Anh Tu is said to have participated in the kidnapping with bigger roles than Mr. Nguyen Hai Long.
Since then, Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has often avoided answering directly to international media about accusations of organizing the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh. Instead, Spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang just said in general that “Trinh Xuan Thanh violated Vietnamese law, was brought to a public trial in accordance with Vietnamese law and is currently serving his sentence.”
Contradictory views about Trinh Xuan Thanh being returned to Germany
The lawyer protecting the rights of Trinh Xuan Thanh has always maintained the view that she believes that her client will soon return to Germany in the near future, but refuses to provide further details:
“I still believe that my client can return to Germany in the near future. Please understand that I cannot provide further details.”
Not as optimistic as the German lawyer, lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, in terms of law, Vietnam has a legal framework to grant an amnesty for Trinh Xuan Thanh to return to Germany, for diplomatic reasons. However, Mr. Dai said that in reality, that is very unlikely to happen:
“Vietnamese law does allow that [returning Trinh Xuan Thanh to Germany], for special cases, because of international diplomatic relations, the President of Vietnam has the right to grant amnesty, exempt from penalties for someone to be released in Vietnam or to settle in a foreign country.
In practical terms, I think Trinh Xuan Thanh cannot return to Germany, as long as the leader of the kidnapping, Mr. To Lam, is still in the position of Politburo member and Minister of Public Security, he would never allow that to happen.
So I think that only when Mr. To Lam loses his position, retires, or has nothing to do with the Communist regime’s power anymore, will Mr. Trinh Xuan Thanh have a chance to return to Germany.”
Article 5, Clause 2 of the 2018 Law on Amnesty stipulates that “The President considers and decides on special amnesty in order to meet the State’s domestic and foreign requirements, regardless of the time.
Germany will never accept what Vietnam has done
Diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Germany have been fractured since the kidnapping of Trinh Xuan Thanh in July 2017. Germany condemned Vietnam immediately after the incident and vowed never to tolerate violations of German sovereignty and disregard for German law in German territory.
However, by the end of 2018, the German government began to gradually resume relations with Vietnam.
Specifically, in February 2019, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Mr. Pham Binh Minh. Maas said the two sides will discuss agreements to resume the Strategic Partnership, which the foreign minister said: “will be built with new materials.”
Lawyer Petra Schlagenhauf admitted that Germany has gradually normalized its relationship with Vietnam, but that does not mean that Germany accepts what Vietnam has done:
“It is true that Germany, after a while normalizing relations with Vietnam, but also Germany, makes my client’s status a constant issue in diplomatic contacts between the two countries. two countries.
This is not only because Germany has never accepted what Vietnam did, but also because my client already has refugee status in Germany.”
Lawyer Nguyen Van Dai told RFA that Germany follows a system of separation of powers. The issue of relations between the two countries lies with the executive branch of the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As for the case of Trinh Xuan Thanh kidnapping, it belongs to the judicial branch of the court:
“So for the judiciary, they will never ignore it. Maybe five years, 10 years, or 20 years later, if the culprit is not caught, this case will not stop.”
Dai also added that the case that he and his assistant were allowed to go to Germany in 2018, while still serving their sentences, was at the request of the German Government, as a condition for saving the relationship between the two countries after the abduction of Trinh Xuan Thanh:
“When the Ministry of Public Security of Vietnam handed me over to the representatives of the German Government and the EU at Noi Bai airport to go to Germany, the Vietnamese side also acknowledged that they had made their best efforts to take me out of a Vietnamese prison to Germany.
They suggested that the German government should actively consider these responses from Vietnam, according to the requirements of Germany, and hope that the two sides also normalize their previous relationship. That is the Vietnamese side they say so.
The German side also replied that it recognized Vietnam’s efforts in resolving the disagreement between the two sides and creating conditions for me to leave Vietnam as quickly as possible.”