The disgraced glam rocker Gary Glitter faces a forcible return to Britain once released from prison in Vietnam, where he is starting a three-tear sentence for sexually abusing two girls, aged 11 and 12, it emerged yesterday.
Vietnam intends deporting 61-year-old Glitter, real name Paul Gadd, on his release from prison. Although he left Britain soon after serving two months in 1999 for paedophile offences, and has moved from one Third World country to another since then, Glitter may have no choice of destination when freed. He is likely to find that his homeland is the only nation that is obliged to accept him, according to legal sources. Reports of consultations between Vietnamese and British police could lead to further prosecutions against Glitter on his return, under laws against Britons committing sex offences abroad.
Although Le Thanh Kinh, Glitter's local lawyer, said he would be eligible for parole by November - one year into his sentence after his time spent in detention is considered - Vietnam appears determined to make an example of the fallen star. The high profile given to the case is intended as a stark warning to foreign child-sex tourists who have seen Vietnam as a soft touch. It has also proved a wake-up call to a nation where paedophilia was rarely talked about.
Glitter, once a strutting showman with a shock of raven hair, was almost unrecognisable as he stood trial at the Vietnamese People's Court in the southern town of Vung Tau. His wispy white beard and shining pate were more reminiscent of the revered founder of Vietnamese Communism, Ho Chi Minh, than the larger-than-life figure who had entertained millions on Top of the Pops in the 1970s.
The judge, Hoang Thanh Tung, did not mince his words as he sentenced the singer. "His lewd acts have compromised the dignity of the Vietnamese people, law and common sense." At a post-trial press conference, he said Glitter had a "sickness".
A spokeswoman for the Unicef children's organisation in the capital, Hanoi, said the case would send an important signal to all paedophiles who believed they would be safe in Vietnam. The Vietnamese authorities persevered with the case against Glitter after his arrest last November, unlike neighbouring Cambodia, which simply threw the singer out of the country within three days of his activities being uncovered.
Anti-sex-tourism campaigners said the three-year sentence given to Glitter - instead of a possible maximum of seven years - was unfortunate, marking a lost opportunity to send a stronger message. But foreign lawyers based in Hanoi and the southern Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) told The Independent on Sunday that Vietnamese law took into account the "good intentions" of a defendant, as seen by Glitter's earlier payment of compensation to the two girls' families. This was not seen as bribery, the lawyers explained, and if Glitter had tried to bribe any judge or court directly it would have acted against him.
"Vietnamese regulations stipulate compensation can help reduce psychological damage, so if a criminal has money and does not make compensation, the court considers this," the judge said.Reuse content