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Vietnam starts trying Dong Tam case
Linh Pham 12:03, 2020/09/07
The Dong Tam land-related case has made headlines for years due to controversial comments.

The People’s Court of Hanoi opens today [September 7] a first-instance trial on Dong Tam land-related case in which three policemen died in a clash between some villagers and police in Hanoi’s outlying district of My Duc in January 2020.

 Dong Tam case is brought to trial on September 7. Photo: VNA

A group of 29 defendants are charged with murder and resisting officials on duty at the court that is scheduled to last for 10 days.

Among them, 25 people stand trial for a murder charge whose maximum penalty is life sentence while four others are charged with resisting officials on duty and face the heaviest penalty of seven years behind bars.

A total of 33 attorneys represent the defendants, including 15 hired by defendants' families and the remaining are assigned by the court.

Dong Tam case

 Weapons used by villagers in the clash with police in January 2020. Photo: Ministry of Public Security

According to the initial indictment by the People’s Court of Hanoi, since 2013 a veteran Party member Le Dinh Kinh, 84, and his son Le Dinh Cong, 56, together with Bui Viet Hieu, 77, established the so-called “consensus team” to induce local residents to appropriate military land in Senh field in Dong Tam commune.

Hanoi’s police attributed the Dong Tam case to the local government’s loose management for years, resulting in the encroachment and appropriation of military land.

Hanoi’s authorities had for years failed to thoroughly solve the case.

On April 15, 2017, a group of 38 officials and policemen were illegally detained by the locals in a commune house for a week.

Major General To An Xo, chief of the Office of the Ministry of Public Security, said in an interview with the Vietnam News Agency on September 6 that there was no land litigation between the defendants and the military airport project. The land for the construction military airbase has been zoned for decades and a number of local households conducted land encroachment for years by planting trees, digging wells, building fences and even houses in that zoned area.

Mr. Xo emphasized that the Le Dinh is the largest family line in Dong Tam Commune.

In November 2019, the Air Defense Air Force Command (ADAFC) under the Ministry of Defense planned to build walls surrounding the Mieu Mon Military airbase.

For that reason, the ADAFC asked the Hanoi police to support them in ensuring security in the construction site. The police also protected the building of the Dong Tam Commune People’s Committee and ensured social security in the locality.

In December 2019, Kinh, who used to be Party chief of Dong Tam Commune, chairman of the Dong Tam People’s Committee, and head of Dong Tam Commune’s Police, asked his son and other members of the team to prepare weapons to “attack and exterminate” law enforcement officers, local media quoted the Hanoi People’s Procuracy as saying.

Defendant Nguyen Quoc Tien was tasked with buying grenades while Le Dinh Cong made gas bombs and iron sticks with sharp knives, all such acts are illegal under Vietnamese law. 

 Funeral of a policeman who died in the clash. Photo: Nguoilaodong

Clash

On the early morning of January 9, when the police were deployed to the Mieu Mon Military airbase area, they were fired at by some locals who also broadcast live the scuffle through social media.

At Kinh’s house, three policemen were burned to death when they tried to burst into his place. Kinh was shot dead after he attempted to throw a hand grenade.

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