Fugitive Vietnamese tycoon seeks passage to Germany

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – A Vietnamese property developer detained in Singapore is seeking passage to Germany to avoid being sent back home, where he could face the death penalty amid a crackdown on corruption, his lawyers said yesterday.

Phan Van Anh Vu, 42, who is wanted in Vietnam for revealing state secrets, according to media, was detained in Singapore on Thursday as he tried to leave for Malaysia, said Remy Choo, one of at least three lawyers engaged by Mr Vu’s family to represent him.

Mr Choo and another lawyer, Foo Chow Ming, said they had been unable to contact Mr Vu, and yesterday filed an application in Singapore’s High Court to try to gain access to their client.

A third lawyer said he had filed an application to German authorities to allow him to go there.

“I have made an application for Germany to accept him,” said Victor Pfaff, a lawyer in Frankfurt.

Germany’s foreign office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Singapore has no extradition treaty with Vietnam, but its immigration authority has the power to repatriate people under certain circumstances, according to the city-state’s Immigration Act.

“My client’s family is concerned there is an imminent risk of repatriation to Vietnam,” said Mr Choo.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security said last month it was seeking the arrest of Mr Vu, a developer in Danang, where the local leadership was shaken up after corruption accusations last year. Vietnamese media quoted police as saying Mr Vu was wanted for revealing state secrets. They did not say what these related to or whether that was linked to his role as a property developer.

Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and its Ministry of Home Affairs did not respond immediately to a request for comment. Vietnam’s foreign ministry also did not respond immediately to a request for comment on Mr Vu’s detention and whether Hanoi had sought his extradition.

Serious security offences, can carry the death penalty in Vietnam. Singapore also has the death penalty for some crimes.

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