A tense courtroom drama between a ‘beauty’ and a ‘businessman’ that has turned legal and moral standards on their heads.
This may appear a classic “he said-she said” legal conundrum, but there are too many twists and turns that can disorient even the most attentive of viewers and listeners.
Truong Ho Phuong Nga, the 30-year-old “beauty”, has been accused of swindling VND16.5 billion ($725,000) from a Vietnamese businessman in an alleged housing scam.
Cao Toan My, the plaintiff, 40, has pursued the case since 2015. Among his main evidence is the alleged proof that he sent her the money in 2013 to secure a home deal that he claimed never existed.
Nga and her high-profile defense team have argued that it’s not fraud because they were in an extramarital relationship and that it’s not wrong for her to receive money as gifts.
A court in Ho Chi Minh City is now trying to work out all the details and who to believe. But the main question is simple: Is this a case of fraud, or is it just a love affair gone bad?
Also standing trial is Nguyen Duc Thuy Dung, Nga’s friend who has been accused of abetting the alleged scam.
Nga was arrested as police built a criminal case after she reportedly confessed to the alleged fraud.
September 3, 2016
Formal fraud charges were filed.
September 21, 2016
The case went to trial for the first time in Ho Chi Minh City. Nga took the stand and retracted her confession, saying it had been coerced.
She insisted that she was a lover of the plaintiff.
The trial ended after the panel of judges ordered a fresh investigation.
Around this time, Internet users started sharing what appeared to be a “50 Shades”-esque sex contract between the accused and the plaintiff.
June 22, 2017
The trial resumed, this time evoking massive interest from the media. Over the following week, reporters packed the courtroom and provided up-to-the-minutes updates.
Public reactions began to build up, so did concerns about trial by media and potential undue influence.
June 23, 2017
My, the plaintiff, rejected allegations of a love affair.
Nga refused to answer most of the questions, saying she had the right to remain silent.
June 26, 2017
Nga started answering questions. She threatened to countersue My for defamation.
June 27, 2017
A mysterious witness was subpoenaed but refused to appear publicly. From a room, the woman answered questions, only to muddy the waters.
Nga accused this witness of fabricating evidence to help the plaintiff frame her.
The court decided to take a one-day break. – VNExpress