Glitter charged with 'obscene acts with children'

Former British glam rocker Gary Glitter was charged on Friday with committing “obscene acts with children” in Vietnam and could face more serious charges that carry the death penalty, prosecutors said.

Nguyen Van Xung, deputy director of the Ba Ria-Vung Tau provincial prosecutor’s office, said that Glitter, who stands accused of having sex with a 12-year-old girl, could later be charged with child rape.

“This morning I signed a decision to temporarily detain Mr Glitter for four months. He is charged with obscene acts with children,” said Xung.

After consultation with Hanoi authorities, the detention period was later cut to three months.

“We have done medical checks on the girl who is under 13 years old and if we find enough evidence, we will change the charge to child rape,” Xung said.

If convicted of that charge, the disgraced 1970s rocker—famed for his outlandish outfits and a bouffant wig—could face the death penalty by firing squad, according to Vietnamese law.

Glitter was formally notified in the late afternoon of the decision by prosecutors to initiate criminal proceedings against him.

“We have asked the court to have an early trial for this case” once the investigation is concluded, Xung said.

Pending further inquiries, Glitter will remain in detention in a Vietnamese jail for the three-month period agreed by authorities and approved by prosecutors.

Officials have said conditions at the detention centre where Glitter is being held were poor, and that he was permitted to buy food from outside.

Glitter’s Vietnamese lawyer seemed resigned to his client’s possible conviction, but on the lesser charge.

“If they [prosecutors] have enough evidence, we can accept article 116 of the penal code [on obscene acts with children] because it is the lesser charge,” said Le Thanh Kinh, who is based in Ho Chi Minh City.

“If they want to charge my client with child rape, they must come up with more evidence, including results of medical tests.”

Kinh said he would continue to seek bail for his client.

Glitter, whose real name is Paul Francis Gadd, was arrested on Saturday at Ho Chi Minh City airport as he tried to leave Vietnam for Thailand, after media reports in Britain said the performer was living with a 15-year-old girl.

He has reportedly been living in Vung Tau city in southern Vietnam since March.

State newspapers have said two girls, aged 12 and 13, had sex with Glitter several times and that he had paid them between 150 000 dong (less than $10) and 300 000 dong each time.

Glitter had earlier denied the allegations.

The British vice-consul in Ho Chi Minh City, Paul Higham, met Glitter on Thursday in the Phuoc Co detention centre outside Vung Tau.

Glitter, who previously served prison time in Britain after being found with a massive collection of hardcore child pornography, had applied for permanent resident status, a foreign ministry spokesperson said last week.

He is reported to have lived in Cuba and more recently in Cambodia, from where he was expelled after sparking an uproar among women’s and child rights activists.

His musical career peaked in the 1970s with hits including I’m The Leader Of The Gang (I Am). - AFP