Vietnamese delegation did not have visa. We gave them exception

The Denník N daily has published details of the testimony of a police officer who checked the passports.

Trinh Xuan ThanhTrinh Xuan Thanh (Source: AP/TASR)

The Vietnamese delegation, which planned to take off from Bratislava bound for Moscow last year, were reportedly missing a Schengen visa in one of the 12 passports submitted to Slovak border control. The Interior Ministry explained that one of the delegation’s members had lost their diplomatic passport and was given an exception.

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This enabled the delegation to take the abducted Vietnamese businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh onto the Slovak governmental plane and transport him to Russia and then Vietnam, where he was later sentenced for life, the Denník N daily reported.

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Smer is silent

Thanh was kidnapped in Berlin last July. This would not have been possible without the help of the then-Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák (Smer) who offered the Vietnamese delegation the use of the governmental plane, according to the daily.

Even though Germany started investigating the case shortly after the abduction and turned to Slovakia in August 2017, the police did not act. Moreover, Kaliňák kept saying that nothing suspicious had happened during the visit of the Vietnamese delegation.

Smer’s press department has failed to answer the question of whether Kaliňák knew about the problem with the visas, Denník N wrote.

Testimony confirms missing visa

The Slovak police did not start investigating until this August, after Denník N published details about what happened in Bratislava. The Interior Ministry’s inspectorate interrogated police officer Róbert S., a deputy head of the border control department. He said that he checked the passports of the whole Vietnamese delegation on July 26, 2017.

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Read also: Two police officers testify about abduction of Vietnamese businessman Read more 

His testimony is part of the report concerning the criminal complaint that was written in early August, after Denník N published its story. The inspectorate has recently sent the resolution to the daily.

The passports were handed in by “a man from the Interior Ministry’s protocol department who did not introduce himself”, before the delegation arrived at the airport. He checked six diplomatic passports and six ordinary passports. He found that one passport was missing the required Schengen visa.

The person’s name was Trung Viet Luu, a person born on September 2, 1968, Denník N wrote.

Only 10-minute delay

Slovak security guards described the last three people to enter the plane as two Vietnamese holding a third. It is not clear which of them had the passport and whether it was Thanh, who was born in February 1966.

Róbert S. subsequently called the first deputy of the Bureau of Border and Foreign Police of the Police Force Presidium, and told him what was happening. The deputy recommended that he fill out a written application asking for an exception, which he did. During the phone call, the deputy approved the exception, and the problem was solved, according to the daily.

An exception can be granted for three reasons: humanitarian, state interest or international commitment.

Róbert S. faxed the application to the bureau and received the necessary permission. They subsequently checked all the documents in the Interior Ministry’s system to see whether there was anything suspicious. They then stamped the documents and allowed the delegation to board the plane. The delay was only 10 minutes, Denník N reported.

Read also: Saková: Germany is not calling Slovakia to account in the abduction case of a Vietnamese man Read more 

Kaliňák heard too

The inspectorate invited Kaliňák and the head of the protocol department Radovan Čulík to comment. Neither of them noticed anything suspicious. However, their testimonies differ in what they told each other, Denník N wrote.

Čulák said that he learned about the visit of the Vietnamese delegation one day before from Kaliňák, who allegedly said that he wanted the meeting to take place in the governmental Bôrik hotel. He then said that other questions should be addressed to Le Hong Quang, then-advisor to ex-PM Robert Fico.

Moreover, since the Vietnamese do not speak English well, they often addressed Le Hong Quang. He was also the one who submitted the names of the Vietnamese delegation, but without detailing their functions, Denník N wrote.

Kaliňák, who was heard in early October, said that he learned about the delegation either from Čulák or Quang Le Hong one or two days before its arrival.

Police officers meanwhile told Denník N that while Kaliňák was waiting for the delegation, he appeared nervous. He also made a call, saying something about the passport. However, the inspectorate said here was no information about the call in the extract from the call recordings. However, it is not known whether Kaliňák submitted an extract from the applications he used, according to the daily.

The police have not heard Quang Le Hong yet.

The investigation will continue, but the police will focus on the kidnappers from Vietnam rather than Kaliňák, Denník N wrote.

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