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Sat Apr 19 03:51:03 SAST 2014

Acupuncturist pricks holes in rape conviction

Sapa-dpa | 24 May, 2010 10:480 Comments

Three men who spent nearly a decade in prison on rape charges were freed after an acupuncturist determined that they were virgins, a police official says.

La Ngoc Tinh said the case was reopened at the request of Vietnam President Nguyen Minh Triet, after traditional medicine specialists said the men could not be rapists because they had never had sex.

The men were convicted in 2002 of raping an 18-year-old woman in Hanoi, and sentenced to 11 to 16 years in prison.

Pham Thi Hong, an acupuncturist at the national traditional medicine hospital, said prison officials had sent one of the men to her for treatment in 2006.

She said examination of a pressure point beneath the convict's ear showed a small capillary was unbroken, which Vietnamese traditional medicine holds to mean that he was a virgin. Hong then examined the other two men.

"I recognised these three men had never had sex with women," Hong said.

Hong and other hospital officials wrote letters to President Triet and other officials.

After the case was reopened, police found that the initial investigators had made several errors, including misidentifying a knife the victim said the rapists carried and a necklace one of them was wearing, Tinh said.

The three men were released from prison, and the Hanoi People's Court will officially reopen their case and exonerate them in June, Tinh said.

Hong said she has since been contacted by a 93-year-old woman in Phu Yen province whose grandson has been charged with rape.

"The woman is a Hero Mother of Vietnam," Hong said, referring to a Vietnam War-era prize awarded for patriotism. "She says her grandson is innocent."Author: Matt Steinglass

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