Truinh Xuan Thanh was kidnapped in Berlin on July 23, 2017. The Vietnamese delegation of four members, led by Interior Minister To Lam, arrived to Prague on July 26, 2017. They flew a commercial airline, three of them in business class and one in economy class due to a lack of seats in business class. Their tickets were purchased only one day before, through an IT company owned by a Vietnamese man living in Prague.
Trinh Xuan Thanh
Until recently, Thanh was a high-ranking member of the Vietnamese communist party and led the PetroVietnam Construction company until 2013. He stands accused of defrauding 150 million dollars.
He fled to Germany in 2016, after he was stripped of all his posts in Vietnam. He forcefully returned to Vietnam last year and received a life sentence.
Corruption accusations are often used in Communist regimes to remove political rivals, which may be Thanh's case.
Denník N daily described their official trip, based on the documents from the German investigators who have backtracked the transfer of Thanh from Berlin to Vietnam via Bratislava. Germans do not doubt the Slovak government plane was used for this purpose.
The way the trip was organised is not customary for official visits and suggests it was a conspiracy that allowed the Vietnamese interior minister to meet his Slovak counterpart, the then-interior minister Robert Kaliňák, in Bratislava on the same day.
The course of the visit continued in an out-of-the-ordinary fashion: the number of delegation members changed, as did the number of cars in the official procession.
The Slovak government plane brought the delegation of four to Bratislava from Prague, but on departure from Bratislava to Moscow there were 12 people on board. German investigators suspect the kidnappers and the kidnapped were among them. That was also what the Slovak police officers who witnessed the whole transfer said, as reported by Denník N last week, while the Interior Ministry and former minister, now MP, Kaliňák denied it.
Was Fico's advisor the "insider"?
The German investigators have established that the head of the Interior Ministry's protocol, Radovan Čulák, and his team were responsible for the visit in Slovakia, with the "support of the advisor to the Slovak prime minister, Quang Le Hong, who cooperated with the Vietnamese Embassy in Bratislava", Dennik N reported. At that time, Robert Fico was prime minister.
Quang was reportedly the one handling the composition of the delegation on the Vietnamese side, not the delegation itself.
The German investigators also worked with the version that suggests the Slovak government may have been involved in the abduction unwittingly and that there was an "insider" on the Slovak side who participated in the manipulation, Dennik N noted.
"There definitely is a reason to take a closer look at the position of the prime minister's advisor Quang Le Hong, who got the post of the head of the Slovak Embassy in Hanoi after the kidnapping," the daily reported from the German files.
Dennik N also noted that President Andrej Kiska admitted that PM Robert Fico personally asked him to appoint Quang Le Hong as ambassador, which was unusual. Kiska refused that. The Foreign Ministry called Quang back from Hanoi to Bratislava following the reports about the abduction, and he now no longer works for Slovak diplomacy, Dennik N reported.
German police vs. Kaliňák
In the dispute of whether the Slovak criminal prosecution bodies should be dealing with the abduction case, Kaliňák has maintained the opinion that the kidnapping happened in Germany and therefore is an issue for the German police so there is no reason for investigation and criminal prosecution to be led in Slovakia.
Kaliňák and the Slovak police, among other things, argued that the German investigators did not report Thanh as a missing person in the Schengen system of sharing information about missing persons.
But the Sme daily reported on August 5 that it has obtained a copy of a police report that shows Thanh was reported in the Schengen information system less than 24 hours after he was kidnapped in Berlin. The official search for him as a missing person started on July 24, 2017 at 8:30 in the morning.
Kaliňák responded that his claims are based on information he received from the Interior Ministry.
"When we discussed it at the parliamentary committee three months ago, the Interior Ministry checked it and confirmed that his name was not recorded there," Kaliňák told Sme on August 5.
5. Aug 2018 at 20:18 | Compiled by Spectator staff