Kiska: Vietnamese abduction is an international scandal

German press writes that “there is almost no doubt” that a Slovak government plane was involved in the kidnapping of businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh.

Police President Milan Lučanský (L) with president Andrej Kiska, July 31.Police President Milan Lučanský (L) with president Andrej Kiska, July 31. (Source: SITA)

A convincing explanation of all suspicions and counter-statements or a punishment for those responsible is what President Andrej Kiska expects when it is confirmed that Slovakia offered its governmental plane, later used to abduct Vietnamese ex-politician and businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh.

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Thanh was kidnapped last July. The German Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily suggests, citing the reports of Berlin-based investigators, that Slovakia was involved in the entire act, by providing the governmental plane to Vietnam.

“This case has turned into an international scandal,” Kiska said, as quoted by the Sme daily. “It can have serious consequences on the trust in relations between Slovakia and Germany.”

Former interior minister Robert Kaliňák has rejected the claims that when he was in charge the respective authorities knew about the abduction, Sme reported.

What do the police say?

Slovak police have done everything possible so far, in cooperation with German authorities, to investigate the kidnapping of a Vietnamese citizen by his countries’ representatives, Police President Milan Lučanský said after the meeting with Kiska on July 31. Police even proactively collaborated with the Germans, Lučanský added, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Kiska asked about this case and expressed dissatisfaction with the work of Slovak police, according to Lučanský.

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Read also: Kaliňák approved special plane for Vietnamese delegation Read more 

“The German side announced a meeting in the upcoming days or weeks where some processes will be made,” the police president told the newswire. “I will be participating as well.”

Asked by journalists whether Slovak police should launch an independent investigation, Lučanský answered that Slovak police officers were concurring with German colleagues.

“So far, no criminal prosecution has been ongoing. But I will do everything possible for this case to be cleared and prevent traumatising society,” he assured, as quoted by TASR.

Lučanský also pointed out that the crime was committed outside of Slovakia. When told that the Vietnamese citizen allegedly boarded the Slovak government plane at Bratislava airport, the police president reiterated he has not received such information.

Kiska wants Slovak bodies to inform him

“We are witnessing obscurantism, buck-passing and misleading of the public and making excuses to the German authorities, but do we really have to learn about what happened in Slovakia from German investigators?” Kiska asked following his meeting with Lučanský, as quoted by Sme.

As he stressed he wants Slovak investigators to tell him the truth about the abduction.

“How can we as politicians face hundreds of thousands people who were calling for a decent Slovakia, a Slovakia where political power will not be abused, when we don’t look into what has been said,” the president continued.

The hesitation of the Slovak authorities to launch an investigation does not contribute to increasing the trustworthiness of the police, law enforcement bodies and the ability of the state to secure justice.

German media accuse Slovak authorities

German investigators dealing with the kidnapping case of Thanh – allegedly committed by the Vietnamese secret service from Germany to his country of origin last year – have raised serious suspicions against Slovakia, claiming that the victim of the abduction left the Schengen area and was returned to his home country via a Slovak government aircraft, German media reported on July 30.

Read also: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: Saková is lying about the abduction of a Vietnamese citizen Read more 

This information was already published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung several months ago, and Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini, as well as the Slovak Interior Ministry, rejected any connection with the abduction.

Now, however, the Berlin investigators stated that “there is almost no doubt” that the Slovak government plane was used for the kidnapping of Vietnamese businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh.

The German police also pointed to an official meeting between Vietnamese Minister of Public Security, To Lam, and then-interior minister Kaliňák in Bratislava last year that allegedly “had only one purpose”, namely to “transfer Mr Thanh relatively smoothly from the Schengen area to Vietnam”.

Last week, a court in Berlin sentenced a Vietnamese national identified only as Long N. H., 47, to three years and ten months in prison after he confessed before the German authorities to having collaborated in the abduction with his country’s secret service. Long N. H., who was arrested in the Czech Republic last August, was not among the leading figures of the kidnapping operation but was found guilty of restraining the freedom of a person’s movement and of collaborating with the foreign secret service.

Authorities do not know about the abduction

The Slovak Interior Ministry has no information about any person abducting the Vietnamese citizen from Slovakia to abroad. The case is currently being investigated by the German police since this person was kidnapped in Germany, not Slovakia, reads the official statement provided to the media.

As the ministry stressed, Slovakia is offering its cooperation on the issue. There have been several hearings, and the ministry itself has responded to five additional requests.

“The prosecutor’s office and the police have to decide whether Slovak bodies will investigate this case,” the statement reads.

As it stressed, neither Kiska, nor opposition politicians or the Interior Ministry are the law enforcement bodies.

“The Interior Ministry has no information about the negative impacts of this case on our relations with Germany,” the statement reads.

Kaliňák meanwhile offered his view on the case on a social network. As he reiterated, Thanh’s name was not on the list of passengers using the governmental plane provided by the Vietnamese authorities. There was no patient transported on board, or a person who would be tied or whose movement would be limited in any other way. Everybody had a diplomatic passport, he added.

What happened in July 2017?

Businessman Thanh, 51, was allegedly kidnapped while Vietnamese official To Lam was officially visiting Slovakia. According to the German press, some of the kidnapping suspects appeared in Lam’s presence in Bratislava, and the Slovak Interior Ministry even provided a plane to the Vietnamese delegation to bring it from Prague to the Slovak capital, and later to Moscow after what the Vietnamese described as sudden changes in their plans.

Read also: Vietnamese ambassador should offer an explanation of the alleged abduction Read more 

The Slovak side has denied the accusations, and the Vietnamese ambassador to Slovakia has denied this as well.

Read also: Vietnamese Ambassador: Abducted entrepreneur had never been to Slovakia Read more 

Meanwhile, Vietnam claims that Thanh, who was charged with fraud in his home country, returned voluntarily. Since he returned to Vietnam, he has been given two life sentences.

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