The relationship between Germany and Vietnam has turned sour after Berlin expelled a Vietnamese intelligence officer. German accused Vietnam of kidnapping Trinh Xuan Thanh in Berlin last week. Thanh, a former executive, was accused of a $150 million corruption in the Vietnam’s state-owned company.
Thanh is reported to seek asylum in Germany after Vietnamese government issued an international arrest warrant for him in September last year. According to the official statement from German foreign ministry, they believe that Thanh was kidnapped after he visited Berlin Zoo. Some witnesses saw that he was taken into a car by some armed men on July 23 at the Tiergarten, Central Berlin.
Following the incident, Germany summoned the Vietnamese ambassador on Wednesday, Aug. 2. According to Reuters, Germany has ordered a Vietnamese intelligence officer to leave the country within 48 hours. A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry, Martin Schaefer told reporters that the alleged kidnapping was a “scandalous violation of German and international law.”
“There is no serious doubt about the participation of the Vietnamese intelligence service and embassy in the kidnapping of a Vietnamese citizen on German soil.”
However, according to Vietnamese Police, Thanh has returned to Vietnam to turn himself in last Monday. Police also mentioned that Thanh decided to return to Vietnam to face the trial. Nevertheless, the police have not released any picture of Thanh in custody and according to local media, the police did not inform his family of his whereabouts either.
The 51-year-old former executive was a director of Petro Vietnam Construction Corporation, a subsidiary of the state energy company Petro Vietnam. During his tenure, he caused the company to suffer a $150 million losses. Strangely, after the losses, he was awarded a promotion. Thanh received more public backlash after the media discovered him to own a luxurious Lexus car with government license plate.
Vietnamese Communist Party launched an investigation into the alleged corruption in the case. The investigation found the involvement of many high ranking government officials and executives. Many of them lost their positions, but Thanh took a leave of absence and disappeared last year. In September, Vietnamese government issued an international arrest warrant for Thanh, and he was later reported to appeal for an asylum in Germany. Following his appearance in Germany, Vietnam has officially requested Tranh’s extradition during the G-20 summit in Hamburg last July.
Germany is Vietnam’s largest trading partner in the European Union. Currently, Germany is seeking to score a deal on the free trade agreement with Vietnam, the fastest growing market for German product in Southeast Asia. However, this incident will likely turn the agreement to be delayed.
[Featured Image by dpa/AP Images]