[JURIST] The Hanoi Supreme People's Court [official website, in Vietnamese] on Monday sentenced [press release, in Vietnamese] two top executives to death for "taking bribes." Duong Chi Dung, former chairman of the Vietnam National Shipping Lines (Vinalines) [official website], and former general director Mai Van Phuc were convicted of embezzlement and sentenced to death, while eight other defendants were sentenced to lesser punishments. The other defendants were convicted [AP report] of graft and violation of state regulations. All of the accused were members of the Communist Party of Vietnam, the current ruling party. The defendants have 14 days to appeal the verdict, though it is unclear if they will do so. The case involved alleged kickbacks received relating to the purchase of an old inoperable floating dock from a Russian company in 2008. Vinalines is still responsible for USD $47,000 in monthly fees for the dock.
The Vietnamese government has been cracking down on corruption with harsh punishments. The leaders have already vowed to be tough on graft, believing that harsh punishments would deter corruption. Vietnamese courts held 278 corruption trials this year, and the state inspectorate uncovered 80 cases of fraud [Bloomberg report] involving state funds. In an effort to clean up the banking system, a court in Ho Chi Minh last month sentenced [Al Jazeera report] a former banker at a state-owned bank and his business associate to death for embezzlement. In August the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) criticized [JURIST report] Vietnam for resuming the death penalty. In 2010, the Ho Chi Minh City People's Procuracy sentenced [JURIST report] the former deputy director of the Vietnamese Ministry of Transportation Huynh Ngoc Si to life in prison for accepting bribes, though the Ho Chi Minh City People's Supreme Court ultimately reduced Si's sentence to 26 years in prison for taking bribes and abuse of power after his family returned US$143,000 to law enforcement officials.