April 21, 2018
Defend the Defenders, April 21, 2018
Four out of six activists convicted on subversion in a trial on April 5 have challenged the court’s decision, Defend the Defenders has learned.
On April 5, the People’s Court of Hanoi held the first-instance hearing of prominent human rights attorney Nguyen Van Dai, Protestor Nguyen Trung Ton, engineer Pham Van Troi, enterpreneur Nguyen Bac Truyen, veteran journalist and labor activist Truong Minh Duc, and English teacher Le Thu Ha on allegation of “carrying out attempts to overthrow the people’s administration” under Article 79 of the 1999 Penal Code.
During the one-day trial, the court found the activists members of the unsanctioned organization Brotherhood for Democracy guilty and sentenced them to a total 66 years in prison and 17 years under house arrest afterward.
In their last words before the court announced their decision, the activists affirmed their innocences, saying their activities were peaceful and in line with the country’s 2013 Constitution and Vietnam’s commitments to international treaties.
Mr. Dai, who received the highest sentence of 15 years in jail and five years of probation, and Ms. Ha, who was given nine years in prison and three years under house arrest, are likely unwilling to appeal the court’s decision.
Mr. Ton and Mr. Duc, each received 13 years in prison and four years of probation, and Mr. Truyen, sentenced to 11 years in prison and three years under house arrest, as well as Pham Van Troi, who was given to seven years in prison and one year of probation, were set to have submitted their appeals to the Supreme People’s Court.
The appeal hearing will be carried out by the Higher People’s Court of Hanoi in coming months.
Mr. Dai and his assistant Ha were arrested on December 16, 2015 while the four others were detained on July 30 last year. The five men were former prisoners of conscience and senior members of the Brotherhood for Democracy, the main target of Vietnam’s ongoing crackdown on local dissent.
Last week, Vietnam imprisoned three members of the online pro-democracy group namely Nguyen Van Tuc, Tran Thi Xuan and Vu Van Hung. The first two were convicted on subversion and sentenced to 13 years and nine years in jail, respectively while the last one was charged with “inflicting injuries” in a trumped-up politically case and sentenced to one year in prison.
Authorities in the central province of Ha Tinh are seeking to imprison Mai Van Tam, a key member of the organization in the central region. He is summoned to a local police station many times for questioning his peaceful and legal activities which aim to promote human rights and democracy as well as protect environment in the province heavily affected by the industrial waste discharge of the Taiwan-invested steel plant.
Several years ago, Tam and Nguyen Trung Truc, spokesman of the Brotherhood for Democracy, were kidnapped by undercovered policemen who robbed them and tortuted them before released them in a remote area in forest. Mr. Truc was arrested last year and charged with subversion.