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Rocker Glammy Glitter to face appeal court over abuse

The faded 1970s star, born Paul Francis Gadd, was found guilty on March 3 of "committing obscene acts".

india Updated: Jun 15, 2006 20:58 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

British glam rocker Gary Glitter, sentenced to three years in a Vietnamese jail for sexually abusing children, will seek to overturn the verdict Thursday before an appeal court in southern Ho Chi Minh City.

The faded 1970s star, born Paul Francis Gadd, was found guilty on March 3 of "committing obscene acts" with two young girls in the southern resort town of Vung Tau and sentenced to the minimum term under Vietnamese law.

Glitter, 62, has denied abusing the girls. He said he was teaching them English and allowed them to stay overnight because they were scared of ghosts.

As the victims and the prosecutors did not appeal the sentence, Glitter cannot be sentenced to any higher term, court officials said. They said the verdict is expected at around 2 pm (0700 GMT).

"He has always maintained he is not guilty and will say the same" to the People's Supreme Court in Ho Chi Minh City, said his lawyer Le Thanh Kinh.

"Of course we expect that Glitter's sentence will be reduced... so that he can be expelled from Vietnam," he told AFP. "I have strategies for this trial."

The musician who scored a number of hits including "I'm The Leader Of The Gang (I Am!)", was arrested at Ho Chi Minh City airport on November 19, 2005 while trying to board a flight to Thailand.

If his appeal fails at the end of the half-day hearing behind closed doors, he can still apply for parole after serving one-third of his sentence. This in theory means he could be released by Christmas, having spent more than three months behind bars before his trial.

In March presiding judge Hoang Thanh Tung said Glitter "had exhibited disgusting and ill-intentioned behaviour towards children several times."

The singer has proclaimed his innocence ever since. "I haven't done anything," he told the BBC in May from his prison cell.

The disgraced rock star -- the first foreigner to be tried for sex crimes in post-war Vietnam -- will again stand accused of kissing, fondling and engaging in other sexual acts with the girls.

The case has been depicted by local authorities as a sign there will be no leniency towards sex crimes in the communist nation.

"The trial is (a message) wakening and admonishing foreigners who come to Vietnam for tourism purposes but then abuse children sexually," Huynh Lap Thanh, deputy judge of the appeal court, told AFP.

"This is a special case because (Glitter) is not only a foreigner but also a former rocker very famous in Britain."

Last year the singer evaded more serious charges of child rape, which carry a maximum penalty of death by firing squad. He paid 2,000 dollars in compensation to the family of each victim before the first trial.

March's verdict marked the latest stage in an international legal odyssey that started after the singer's four-month jail sentence in Britain for possession of child pornography in 1999.

Pursued by the British media, Glitter apparently moved to Cuba, then resettled in Cambodia, where he lived on and off for years before he was expelled in 2002 after reportedly trawling for child sex.

Since March Glitter has not been a difficult detainee, his lawyer said, adding he was in good health despite losing a little weight.

Duong Danh Nga, jailor at Phuoc Co prison where the Briton has been held since his arrest, said: "He is treated as any other prisoner. He smiles all the time."

First Published: Jun 15, 2006 20:58 IST

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