Hanoi Court Reduces Imprisonment Sentences of Two Anti-corruption Activists Dang Thi Hue and Bui Manh Tien by Three Months Each

Hai người chống BOT bẩn Bùi Mạnh Tiến (trái) và Đặng Thị Huệ (phải)


Defend the Defenders, July  30, 2020


After two days reviewing evidence on July 29-30, the People’s Court of Hanoi has decided to reduce imprisonment sentences of two anti-corruption activists named Dang Thi Hue (Facebooker Huệ Như) and Bui Manh Tien by three months each.

On July 30, the court announced its decision to reduce Mr. Tien’s sentence to 15 months in prison and Ms. Hue to 39 months. Both were convicted of “causing public disorders” under Article 318 of the country’s Criminal Code by the lower People’s Court of Soc Son district in May. In the first-instance hearing on May 8, the two were sentenced to 18 months in prison each, and Ms. Hue was given an additional 24 months in prison due to her probation sentence in the previous case.

Ms. Hue and her fellow Bui Manh Tien were arrested in mid-October last year when they were trying to block the Bac Thang Long-Noi Bai BOT (build-operating-transfer) toll booth to protest its illegal fee collection. Their acts were simply civil but considered by authorities in Hanoi as criminals since the BOT toll booths belong to companies backed by senior state officials.

In the appeal hearing, Ms. Hue was defended by five human rights lawyers including Saigon-based attorney Dang Dinh Manh and Hanoi-based attorneys Ha Huy Son and Le Van Luan. Her fellow, Mr. Tien was also protected by one lawyer.

Lawyer Manh said their clients did not ask for sentence reduction but the two activists claimed their innocence and requested the court to drop the charge against them.

Hue and Tien among dozens of activists speaking up against fee collecting of wrongly-placed BOT toll booths in many places in Vietnam, including the Bac Thang Long-Noi Bai BOT.

Five months before being arrested, Ms. Hue was beaten by plainclothes policemen of Soc Son district. Due to the assault, she suffered a birth miscarriage.

Many anti-BOT activists have been persecuted by plainclothes agents and thugs in recent years. Last year, Mr. Ha Van Nam and six others were convicted and sentenced to between 18 months and 36 months on the allegation of “disturbing public orders.”

Ms. Hue, Mr. Tien, Mr. Nam, and his fellows are considered as prisoners of conscience by Defend the Defenders and other international human rights groups, including Amnesty International.