Slovakia probes reports of role in kidnap of Vietnamese ex-executive

AUGUST 4, 2018 / 1:04 AM Reuters Staff

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) – Slovakia said on Friday it would send its interior minister and police chief to talk to police in Berlin following media reports that a Slovak state plane was used in the kidnap in Germany of a Vietnamese oil executive who was then spirited back to Vietnam.

The Most-Hid party, a junior member of three-party center-left ruling coalition, has called for a parliamentary committee to investigate the case after a Slovak media outlet reported a Slovak state plane was used in the abduction.

Trinh Xuan Thanh, accused of causing losses and mismanagement at PetroVietnam Construction JSC amid a government anti-corruption drive, had sought asylum in Germany, where he was abducted from a Berlin street last year and smuggled back to Vietnam. He was subsequently tried and jailed for life.

Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said he would send Interior Minister Denisa Sakova and police chief Milan Lucansky to Germany to cooperate with Berlin police on the case.

The case soured relations between Germany and Vietnam and prompted Germany to accuse Vietnam of breaching international law. Slovakia has sought to distance itself from the incident after previous reports its plane was used in the kidnap.

On Thursday Slovak daily Dennik N cited several Slovak police officers as confirming Thanh was smuggled to Vietnam on a Slovak government plane.

The witnesses, only identified by first names, said then-interior minister Robert Kalinak had arranged for a government plane to pick up a Vietnamese delegation in Prague and bring them to Bratislava for a meeting involving Vietnam’s minister of public security, To Lam.


The abducted and beaten man was allegedly transferred from a rented van to a car that was part of the official motorcade and was driven to Bratislava airport, the daily reported.

The delegation then flew to Moscow from Bratislava, Dennik N reported.

Thanh subsequently surfaced in Vietnam.

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in May that, three days after the abduction, the car supposedly used for the kidnap was parked in front of the Slovak government hotel where the Slovak-Vietnamese meeting was held, according to GPS records.

Kalinak on Friday denied any involvement in the kidnapping and called the story “science-fiction”.

The former minister is a part of the ruling Smer party and was at the center of massive street protests – the biggest in Slovakia’s post-communist history – that swept the country this year after investigative journalist Jan Kuciak was murdered.

Kuciak had been probing government and mafia links before he and his girlfriend were shot by an unknown assailant at their home.

A German court in July sentenced a Vietnamese man to three years and 10 months in jail after he confessed to helping his country’s secret services kidnap Thanh.

The court found that Long N.H., who also has Czech citizenship, rented two vehicles, one to observe the victims and the other to use in the kidnapping. He later drove both vehicles back to Prague where he had hired them.

A court spokeswoman said on July 25th after the sentencing that the court had found Slovakia played a role in taking the kidnap victim to Vietnam, as a Slovak government plane had been involved. However it was unclear if the country was a direct or willing participant.

Reporting By Tatiana Jancarikova, Editing by Jason Hovet, Editing by William Maclean

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