Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sentence against Thai Ha faithful upheld

Vietnam's appeals court upheld on Friday (March 27) a lower court verdict against eight defendants who had been found guilty of "destroying property" and "disturbing public order" for their participation, along with thousands of other Catholics, in protests over land once held by the Thai Ha parish in Hanoi. At the original trial, seven were given suspended sentences ranging from 12 to 17 months, and the eighth was issued a warning. On the day of the appeals hearing, some 5,000 Catholics are reported to have marched nearly eight miles, to within 200 yards of the courthouse, where they were cordoned off by the police.

The hearing was preceded by a government orchestrated campaign against the defendants, and perhaps even more so against the lawyer they chose to represent them, Le Tran Luat. Luat was the object of harsh denunciations in the state press in recents months, and was also prevented by police from travelling to Hanoi to represent his clients. The campaign culminated with his licence to practice law being revoked. His case seems similar to two other lawyers who defend dissidents -- Le Thi Cong Nhan and Nguyen Van Dai, who were sentenced to four and five years respectively in a trial held in May 2007. The defendants were represented by Hoang Cao Sang and Huynh Van Dong at the appeals hearing, according to Vietnam News.

If the defendants choose to appeal again, the only court left would be Vietnam's Supreme Court.

Sources: Associated Press March 27; AsiaNews.It, March 26; BBC News March 27; VietCatholic News March 27; Vietnam News Service March 28.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home