A court docket in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Metropolis on Friday sentenced warfare veteran and democracy activist Tran Van Bang to eight years in jail and three years probation for Fb posts that had been deemed to be anti-state propaganda in a trial that lasted lower than three hours.
Tran Van Bang, higher generally known as Tran Bang, is a 62-year-old warfare veteran who fought in the course of the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese Warfare. He had recurrently participated in demonstrations in opposition to China for its controversial claims over territories within the South China Sea.
He was arrested in March 2022 for what was initially decided to be 31 Fb posts between March 2016 and August 2021.
After a subsequent investigation, authorities discovered that he wrote 39 problematic posts between three Fb accounts that that had been seen as “distorting, defaming and talking badly of the individuals’s authorities; offering false data, inflicting confusion among the many individuals; and expressing hate and discontent in the direction of the authorities, Social gathering, State, and nation’s leaders,” the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, citing the indictment.
The posts had been in violation of article 117 of the penal code, a obscure regulation that the federal government has usually used to silence dissent.
It was the most recent conviction in Hanoi’s ongoing marketing campaign to silence bloggers and activists. Vietnam has convicted not less than 60 such individuals below the identical article and sentenced them between 4 and 15 years in jail, and 13 others to between 4 and 12 years below the older article 88, as a result of it was the regulation when the alleged crime occurred, New York-based Human Rights Watch reported.
Throughout Friday’s trial, Bang claimed that his Fb accounts had been hacked and he hadn’t used them in a really very long time.
However the Procuracy rejected the reason, and used the posts on the accounts to convict him.
Tran Dinh Dung, Bang’s protection lawyer, advised RFA’s Vietnamese Service following the trial that freedom of speech is assured in Article 25 of Vietnam’s structure, and Article 117 doesn’t clarify anti-state propaganda.
“The present regulation fails to make clear what freedom of speech is and what anti-state propaganda is,” stated Dung. “As well as, there are some digital paperwork and proof lacking, so I requested that the file of the case must be returned to the procuracy and a verdict ought to solely be made when the whole lot was clarified.”
Two diplomats, from the U.S. and France, had been barred from attending the proceedings. They had been made to attend within the courtyard till the trial’s conclusion.
Members of the family, in the meantime, had been allowed solely to look at the proceedings on a tv display screen from one other room within the courthouse.
Bang’s brother, who declined to be named, advised RFA that the audio of the published was lower a number of instances when the protection lawyer was talking and was turned very low when Bang spoke in his personal protection.
“The lawyer requested a further investigation as some assessments of the investigator in regards to the Fb tales, which had been the bottom for accusations, had been fallacious,” Bang’s brother stated.
“The lawyer additionally stated that the accusation grounds had been simply the investigator’s viewpoint, and with one other viewpoint, different individuals could discover my brother harmless.”
In keeping with Dung, his shopper will enchantment the decision. He advised the judging panel that Bang was affected by a critical well being situation as he had a tumor within the groin space, which had not been decided benign or malignant. The decision famous this data but additionally stated that it wanted to attend for the opinion of Bang’s detention heart clinics, Dung stated.
“On Might 10, I had a working session with the detention heart, they usually advised me that their clinic had really useful eradicating the tumor,” stated Dung, including that purple tape is stopping the operation. “If the tumor is malignant, i.e. most cancers, it could be a really critical well being situation.”
Human Rights Watch on Thursday issued a media launch calling on the Vietnamese authorities to drop all fees in opposition to Bang and instantly launch him.
Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster.