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Official suspended on rape charge

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HANOI, Vietnam (Reuters) -- A senior Vietnamese official who has admitted having sex with a 13-year-old girl has been suspended from duties by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, according to state media reports.

Luong Quoc Dung, 51, deputy chairman of the National Committee for Sports, was arrested last Thursday and charged with statutory rape of the girl in a Hanoi hotel last December.

His post is equivalent to that of a deputy minister.

According to state media reports, police say Dung -- who is in jail awaiting a court hearing -- admitted having intercourse with the girl. The age of consent in Vietnam is 16.

The Vietnam News Agency's Tin Tuc (Information) quoted a decision by the prime minister on Wednesday as saying Dung was suspended following the rape charge.

Dung's Communist Party membership has also been suspended, state media reported.

Rape of victims under the age of 16 carries a maximum punishment of death, which is carried out by firing squad in Vietnam.

Copyright 2004 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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