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article imageSlovakia denies 'intentional' involvement in Vietnam oil exec kidnapping

By AFP     Aug 3, 2018 in World

Slovakia on Friday denied it knowingly took part in the kidnapping last year of a Vietnamese oil executive from Berlin after media reports claimed a government plane was used in the abduction.

Echoing allegations already made in German newspapers, the daily Dennik N reported Thursday that a Slovak government plane had been used by Vietnamese officials to transport businessman Trinh Xuan Thanh.

But interior ministry spokesman Petar Lazarov insisted on Friday that "Slovak authorities did not intentionally participate in the abduction of a Vietnamese citizen abroad in any way."

And he dismissed the Dennik N article as "a fabrication and sci-fi".

The report quoted unnamed Slovak policemen as saying that "a seemingly drunk and bruised individual" joined the official Vietnamese delegation at Bratislava airport and boarded a Slovak government plane.

The article, which was a collaboration with the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, also pointed out that Vietnamese Public Security Minister To Lam was visiting Slovakia at the time.

On Friday, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini said his government would fully cooperate with authorities to clarify the matter.

"This is the only way to prevent damage to our country's good name," he told reporters.

The kidnapped man, Thanh -- a fugitive Vietnamese state company official who had been seeking political asylum in Germany -- was walking in Berlin's Tiergarten park in July 2017 when he was dragged into a van in broad daylight and smuggled back to Vietnam.

The German government was outraged and expelled two Vietnamese diplomats and summoned the ambassador several times.

Vietnam has always insisted that Thanh returned voluntarily to face embezzlement charges.

Thanh has since been sentenced to two life terms in Vietnam on charges of corruption during his time as the head of state-run PetroVietnam Construction, a subsidiary of the country's largest oil firm.

Vietnam's communist government in charge since 2016 has taken aim at bankers, businessmen and politicians it accuses of mismanagement as it vows to stamp out corruption.

The unprecedented anti-graft campaign has seen scores jailed, many previously thought to be untouchable in one of Southeast Asia's most corrupt countries.

Observers agree the campaign, which has echoes of a similar drive in China, is seeking to clean up corruption -- and also get rid of perceived enemies.

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