A Vietnamese man has been extradited to Germany to face charges of taking part in a brazen cold war-style kidnapping of an oil executive ordered by Hanoi, prosecutors have said.
The suspect, identified only as Anh TL, was sent to Germany from the Czech Republic after he was detained in Prague last month on the basis of German and European arrest warrants.
In July 2017, the fugitive Vietnamese state company official Trinh Xuan Thanh was abducted in broad daylight from a Berlin park and spirited back to Hanoi.
“The kidnapping was carried about by members of the Vietnamese secret service and employees of the Vietnamese embassy in Berlin as well as several Vietnamese nationals living in Europe, among them Ahn TL,” the public prosecutor general at the federal court of justice said in a statement.
It said the suspect “was involved in carrying out the operation, spying on the victim and acting as a driver of vehicles used in the operation”.
Thanh, 52, and his female companion, Thi Minh PD, were walking in Berlin’s Tiergarten park when they were dragged into a van before witnesses and smuggled back to Vietnam. Thanh – a senior Communist party functionary who was seeking political asylum in Germany – has since been sentenced to two life terms in Vietnam on corruption charges.
A Berlin court in July 2018 convicted a Czech-Vietnamese national, identified as Long NH, of aiding the abduction and working for a foreign intelligence service. They handed him a relatively mild sentence of three years and 10 months after he confessed to his involvement.
The presiding judge described the kidnapping at the time as “a blatant violation of the sovereignty of Germany, unprecedented in recent history”.
The German government was outraged, calling it a “scandalous violation” of its sovereignty. It expelled two Vietnamese diplomats and summoned the ambassador several times.
Communist-ruled Vietnam has always insisted that Thanh, the former head of PetroVietnam Construction, returned voluntarily to face embezzlement charges.