June 14, 2006

Ex-rocker Glitter pleads innocence

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam (Reuters) - Disgraced former
British singer Gary Glitter, jailed in Vietnam for sexually
molesting children, declared "I'm innocent" when he arrived in
court on Thursday to appeal the charges and sentence.

The hearing in the People's Supreme Court of communist-run
Vietnam was closed to the public and media but the court will
open when the decision is announced later in the day.

Glitter, 62, has been imprisoned in the southern province
of Ba Ria-Vung Tau since last November after his arrest at Ho
Chi Minh City airport.

In March, a court found Glitter guilty of committing sexual
acts with two 11-year-old girls in the resort town of Vung Tau
and sentenced him to three years imprisonment to be followed by

As the handcuffed Glitter, dressed in a black cap, black
shirt and black pants, was led out of a padlocked green police
vehicle into the court, he told reporters he was confident
about the appeal.

"I'm innocent," said Glitter, who rose to fame in the 1970s
with a bouffant hairstyle and several pop hits, including "Rock
and Roll" and "I'm the Leader of the Gang (I Am)."

Now with little hair and sporting a white goatee beard,
Glitter, a stage name, was already registered as a sex offender
in Britain after a 1999 child pornography conviction. He has
been charged under his real name, Paul Francis Gadd.

Asked where he would want to go if he was deported, Glitter
told reporters at the court, "Have a beer."