Vietnam Ends Investigation of Subversion against Key Members of Brotherhood for Democracy

From left: Truong Minh Duc, Nguyen Trung Ton, Pham Van Troi and Nguyen Bac Truyen

By Defend the Defenders, December 28, 2017

The Investigation Agency under Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has ended its investigation of subversion against key members of the Brotherhood for Democracy.

The agency has handed over the case to the Supreme People’s Procuracy and advised it to prosecute prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai and his fellows Ms. Le Thu Ha, Protestant pastor Nguyen Trung Ton, engineer Pham Van Troi, lawyer Nguyen Bac Truyen and independent journalist Truong Minh Duc.

Mr. Dai and Ms. Le Thu Ha were arrested on December 16, 2015 with an initial charge of “conducting anti-state propaganda” under Article 88 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code and latter added with “Carrying out activities aimed at overthrowing the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the code. The three remaining activists were detained on July 30 on allegation of subversion.

The investigation was completed on December 12, police informed the families of the detainees.

If convicted, the activists are facing life imprisonment or even capital punishment, according to the current law.

Mrs. Vu Minh Khanh, the wife of Mr. Dai, told the Defend the Defenders said Vietnam’s authorities rejected his desire to have his own lawyer but appoint a lawyer for him.

Human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai

It is expected their lawyers will meet the detainees soon to prepare for their defense.

The Brotherhood for Democracy is the main target of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown this year. Authorities also detained its Spokesman Nguyen Trung Truc and Nguyen Van Tuc as well as former member Tran Thi Xuan in August-September with the same charge of subversion. However, Mr. Truc, Mr. Tuc and Ms. Xuan will be likely to be tried in other cases.

While Xuan is detained for the first time, all other detainees are former prisoners of conscience, serving years in prison on allegation of “conducting anti-state propaganda.”

So far this year, Vietnam has arrested and tried over 30 activists, using controversial articles in the national security provisions of the Penal Code.

Vietnam has also expelled two pro-democracy activists Pham Minh Hoang and Dang Xuan Dieu to France.

On December 26-27, the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City convicted 15 individuals on allegation of terrorism and subversion, sentencing them to between six years and 16 years in prison with total 129 years in jail. The defendants were accused of conducting fuel bombing plot in Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCM City in late April.