September 10, 2020
Defend the Defenders, September 9, 2020
Many land petitioners from Dong Tam who are defendants in the ongoing first-instance hearing held by the People’s Court of Hanoi in Vietnam’s capital city have admitted that they were tortured during the investigation, according to human rights lawyer Dang Dinh Manh.
On September 9, the third day of the trial planned to last for 10 days, when attorney Manh asked all the 29 defendants who have not been tortured during the pre-trial detention to raise their hands, only 10 of them raised their hands. The remaining 19 land petitioners, including Mr. Le Dinh Cong- a son of killed communal leader Le Dinh Kinh, indirectly confirmed that they were beaten during interrogation.
Before that, when lawyer Manh asked Mr. Cong whether he was tortured in the pre-trial detention, the defendant replied that he was beaten by an investigator named Pham Viet Anh every day from the day he was arrested. The police officer used a rubber baton to beat him, Cong added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Bui Viet Hieu, the oldest defendant in the case, said he was forced by interrogators to make false confessions during the pre-trial detention. Investigators requested him to speak out what they want and recorded. During the trial, the procuracy used the record as evidence against him.
On Wednesday, the Hanoi People’s Procuracy proposed a death sentence for Mr. Cong and his brother Le Dinh Chuc, and life imprisonment for Le Dinh Doanh. Three other land petitioners elderly Bui Viet Hieu, a member of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam who said he witnessed a police officer shot and killed Mr. Kinh, Nguyen Quoc Tien, and Nguyen Van Tuyen were facing imprisonment between 14 years and 18 years on the allegation of “murder.”
The Procuracy has also proposed to change the allegation of 19 defendants from “murder” to “resisting on-duty state officials,” raising the total number of the land petitioners alleged of the accusation to 23, with suggested sentences of between 15 months of probation to seven years in prison.
The first-instance hearing against 29 Dong Tam land petitioners may end in the coming days instead of lasting two weeks as planned.