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Nguyen Huu Linh Sentenced to 1.5 Years for Touching Minor in Saigon Elevator

After five months of trials, the sexual harassment case involving a seven-year-old girl on an elevator in the Galaxy 9 apartment building in District 4 is coming to a conclusion.

On August 23, the judicial panel of the District 4 People’s Court announced a sentence of one and a half year in prison for Nguyen Huu Linh for performing lewd acts (dâm ô in Vietnamese) on a minor, Tuoi Tre reports.

The incident, which occurred on April 1, made the rounds online after CCTV footage surfaced on the internet. The video shows a middle-aged man in an elevator alone with a young girl. After the door closed, he approached the young girl to touch her face and forcibly kissed her.

The child then moved away, showing discomfort, only to be met with the man’s second attempt, this time hugging and kissing her for a longer period of time. The man then released his grip, shifted his attention to his phone, seemingly to either take a call or answer a message. The girl then moved closer to the elevator door, but the man grabbed her neck, dragged her further from the elevator’s door and aggressively hugged her. When the elevator opened, she quickly exited and ran away.

The man was later identified as Nguyen Huu Linh, a former Da Nang government official. Linh admitted that he was drunk and was only “nuzzling” the child. The case caused public outrage, with child protection organizations and the residents of Galaxy 9 collectively requesting to prosecute Linh. In May, it was announced that Linh would face a trial.

During the first hearing on June 25, the District 4 People’s Court ordered the case to be further investigated. Following the court's order, District 4 police conducted the investigation and concluded that while Linh did kiss the girl, there was not enough evidence to determine if Linh’s left hand touched her private areas.

Linh’s lawyer, Tran Ba Hoc, then requested that the case be dropped on grounds that Linh’s behavior does not constitute lewd acts (dâm ô), as according to a People’s Court resolution from 1998 that is still used as the general guideline for many criminal cases, lewd behavior only includes “touching and groping erogenous areas of a minor or forcing a minor to touch, grope the offender’s erogenous areas.” The District 4 People’s Procuracy, however, ruled that there was enough evidence to prosecute Nguyen Huu Linh.

Currently, the Supreme People’s Court is also working on a draft bill to redefine and expand the definition of lewd acts (dâm ô), which defines the offense as “actions intended to satisfy sexual needs of the offender, however not for the purpose of sexual intercourse or other types of sexual contacts with a person under 16 years of age, which include: touching, groping, kissing sensitive and private areas of a minor under 16 years old.”

At the second hearing on August 23, which was held in a closed court at the request of the plaintiff’s family, the judicial panel ruled that while Linh might not have touched the child’s private areas, this detail doesn’t change the nature of Linh’s offense; kissing and hugging the girl is enough to constitute lewd acts (dâm ô) against a minor. The court sentenced Linh to 18 months in jail. After the ruling was announced, Nguyen Huu Linh filed an appeal.

[Photo via Bao Moi]

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