Anti-corruption campaigner jailed

Tran Minh Loi, in yellow, was celebrated locally for his campaigns against corruption. Photo courtesy Tuoi Tre

An anti-corruption campaigner in the Central Highlands has himself been convicted of bribing police and  sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

He was brought down after an attempted sting operation that the police managed to use against him.

Tran Minh Loi is a well known figure in his home province of Dak Nong and has won plaudits for exposing many cases of graft.

He used his Facebook page entitled “Diet giac noi xam” or “Destroying domestic invaders” to post evidence of official corruption, particularly among the local police force.

He was convicted in the Dak Nong People’s Court of giving bribes to the police in a case which he said he was trying to expose.

Local media reported that the case began last year when police arrested six people for gambling and then offered to release them in exchange for money.

Loi became involved when he was approached by relatives of the gamblers. He appears to have recommended that they pay the sum being demanded, the equivalent of about $2,600.

He then filmed the transaction to gain evidence against the officers involved.

Loi reported the case and publicised his evidence online, saying that it was a clear example of police corruption.

The judge did not believe him and concluded that Loi himself and the relatives had been guilty of giving bribes.

The police officer involved was disciplined and received a suspended sentence of one and a half years.

Loi’s lawyers said the case should never have been brought against their client but the judgement against their client was expected from a lower court. They intend to appeal.

Loi is popular with local people for his efforts at exposing corruption and smuggling in the timber trade.

Activists suspect the action against him was part of a broader crackdown against government critics, dissidents and whistle blowers, which has seen an increasing number of bloggers arrested and charged in recent months.