Vietnam gives life term to oil exec after alleged abduction

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2018, file photo, Trinh Xuan Thanh, a former chairman of state energy giant PetroVietnam's construction arm, appears in court in Hanoi, Vietnam. The court handed a life prison term to Thanh at Vietnam's state oil giant who Germany said was kidnapped from there by Vietnamese agents last year. State-run VnExpress said Thanh, was convicted of embezzling $622,000 from a property project at the end of the two-week trial Monday, Feb. 5, 2018. (An Dang/Vietnam News Agency via AP, File)

HANOI, Vietnam — A court in Vietnam gave a second life prison sentence Monday to a former executive at Vietnam's state oil giant accused of corruption and who Germany said was kidnapped from there by Vietnamese agents last year.

State-run online newspaper VnExpress said Trinh Xuan Thanh, the former chairman of PetroVietnam's construction arm, was convicted of embezzling $622,000 from a property project developed by a subsidiary. Seven other defendants in the two-week trial were sentenced from six to 16 years in jail on the same charges.

Thanh denied the allegations but testimony by other defendants and witnesses gave sufficient basis to issue the conviction, the paper quoted judges as saying.

Thanh, 51, received another life prison term two weeks ago after being convicted of embezzling $178,000 from a thermo power plant in the country's highest-profile court case. Another defendant in that case was former Politburo member Dinh La Thang, who was sentenced to 13 years for economic mismanagement. Thang was the first former member of the all-powerful body to face trial in decades.

The defendants in the trial that ended Monday included Dinh Manh Thang who was sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of embezzling $222,000. Thang is the younger brother of Dinh La Thang.

Germany has said Vietnamese intelligence services abducted Thanh from a Berlin park in July in what it called "an unprecedented and flagrant violation of German and international law." He had sought asylum in Germany.

Vietnam denied the abduction allegation and says Thanh returned voluntarily.

The ruling Communist Party under the watch of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, who was re-elected to another five-year term in 2016, has stepped up its anti-corruption campaign to an unprecedented level with PetroVietnam and the banking sector at its center.

Scores of current or former senior PetroVietnam executives and bankers have been put on trial for economic crimes.

A trial of 46 defendants, most of them bankers and businessmen, is underway in southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

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This story has been corrected to show the power plant at issue in the earlier court case was a thermoelectric, not hydroelectric, plant.

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