Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Do you want to be in my Untergang?

Another paedophile has been arrested in Việt Nam:

Hanoi - A 68-year-old Austrian has been arrested in Vietnam on child-sex abuse allegations, police said on Tuesday after acting on an international arrest warrant. The man, Peter Mueller, was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday, and would face extradition to Austria, said a spokesperson for the investigative police department.

Mueller fled to Vietnam in July 2003 after allegations of child abuse against him in Austria, said Vietnamese state media.

He went to Ho Chi Minh City as a social worker, sometimes teaching English at a foreign-language centre, said Vietnam News Agency.

Mueller also faced criminal investigation in connection with allegations of sexually abusing children during his stay in Vietnam, said the spokesperson. On Monday, he was allegedly found living with a 14-year-old Vietnamese boy in a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, said the spokesperson.

"Mueller admitted that he had had sexual relations with the boy for two years and he also had close relations with many other boys in Vietnam," the spokesman said.

The action comes weeks after the arrest of former British glam rocker Gary Glitter, who stands accused of "obscene acts with children" in southern Vietnam's Vung Tau city.

There are some points that I'd like to make.

Firstly, everyone in Việt Nam - Vietnamese, foreigners, everyone - must notify the police whom you are living with. If you are living in a hotel, you leave your passport or National ID card at the front desk, and the staff will take it to the nearest station. If you live in a house or flat, you have to fill in a little registration booklet showing everyone who lives in the house. There are several other rules that should be observed. For example, Vietnamese aren't allowed to stay the night, or even share the premises, unless you are married to them. That's the law.

In practice, the system is falling apart. It's a clear and present opportunity for police corruption. Rules can be enforced or not, in offer for cash. If someone is doing anything suspicious such as living with unrelated children, the bribe may be higher. Even if you aren't breaking the law, you may be hassled for money anyway. Do you want your registration book witnessed by the police? It's a very useful document. Cough up or else.

Or there's the story told to me by a teacher acquaintance, who's also married to a Vietnamese woman. Every couple of weeks, the cops would come knocking at the door, looking for money. My acquaintance reckoned it happened every time a new guy joined the local force. It happened so frequently that this teacher made multiple photocopies of his married certificate, so as to throw to Sài Gòn's Finest.

The other thing is that the guy was teaching English! I've got so many questions. What school? Did he teach children? (God, I hope not.) Did he have a teaching certificate, like a CELTA? I doubt it. Too many of the local "foreign language centres" are looking for warm bodies - preferably Caucasian - to fill their teaching quota, and it sounds like Mueller scuttled over here as quickly as possible once the Austrian Government was on his ass. In theory, you're supposed to have a work permit to work over here. For teachers, you need to show various documentation to obtain it, such as the possession of a teaching certificate, and a clean, "no-record" criminal certificate from back home. In practice, it has been put on abeyance; it's harder for Americans to jump through the hoops than any other nationality. This is partly due to the incompetence of the local U.S. consulate, I suspect, rather than any long-standing grudge. My point is that if the work permit system was working, it would cull a lot of rock spiders masquerading as teachers from these shores. 

And what's happening with The Shitter nowadays? The last I heard he was looking at the death penalty for raping children. But not anymore. He paid the families off:

Hanoi (dpa) - Disgraced former glam rock king Gary Glitter has paid $2,000 (about 82,000 baht) each to the families of two Vietnamese girls, ages 11 and 12, who had accused him of coercing them into sex, police and his lawyer said today. The lawyer said authorities will not charge Glitter with rape, meaning he will not face the death penalty.

The families have since written to police asking for a reduced sentence for Glitter on current charges of "lewd acts with a minor," not the child rape charge, according to lawyer Le Thanh Kinh.

Police and prosecutors said this week they had finished their investigations and would not file child rape charges, though Glitter still will be prosecuted for the lesser lewd acts charge.

As a result, the 61-year-old former singer, who was convicted of child pornography in his native Britain, would likely get as little as six months in prison instead of the death penalty he might have faced on child rape charges, the lawyer said.

"Gary Glitter told me to do anything to reduce the sentence and said he will pay money to do that," Kinh told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa by telephone Tuesday. "Two weeks ago, I gave the families of the two girls 2,000 dollars each."...

Glitter's lawyer said he raised the issue of compensation with the families shortly after his client was charged last month and that they first asked for between 5,000 and 10,000 dollars.

So what began as an extortion bid turned into weregild. Sorry if I sound cynical, but it has too much stench of the old tycoon-paying-off-woman-molested-by-rich-spoiled-pervert-son story. I don't like it at home, and I don't like it here. Nor do I trust the families involved either. Yep, $2000 is a lot of money. It's a shame that they care more about that than their daughters. But Glitter is probably going to end up in jail - from 6 months to 3 years. Hopefully afterwards, he'll be escorted on a British Airways flight back home, and never leave again. But that isn't a happy ending at all.