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article imageVietnam Convicts Pro-Democracy Four for 'Subversion'

By Christopher Szabo     Jan 21, 2010 in World
A Vietnamese court has sentenced four men, one of them a prominent human rights lawyer, to sentences of up to 16 years for "subversion."
The BBC reports that the four were charged with subversion, considered one of the most serious offences on the books.
The sentences have drawn strong criticism from the international community’s rights groups, who see freedoms under threat in the Communist country.
The four were arrested in June and at first charged with ”spreading anti-government propaganda.” Later, prosecutors added the more serious charge of ”subversion” or trying to overthrow the one-party Communist system in the country. Three of the four could have faced the death penalty, if the judge so chose.
Le Cong Dinh, Tran Huynh Thuc, Nguyen Tien Trung and Le Than Long were found guilty of "activities aimed at subverting the people's administration." The trial lasted one day.
Internet enterpreneur Thuc received the longest sentence, Dinh the lawyer was sentenced to five years, as was Long, and Trung got seven years in prison.
Dinh became famous during the so-called ”catfish-battle,” when the US accused Vietnam of dumping cheap seafood on the American markets. Dinh has recently also used his influence to defend Vietnam’s leading human rights activists, some of whom have recently also been jailed.
Meanwhile the Arab television station Al Jazeera reported Amnesty International called the convicted men ”prisoners of conscience” and called for them to be released forthwith. Amnesty’s Vietnam spokesman, Brittis Edman, said:
The trial made a complete mockery of justice, disregarding fundamental human rights such as the principle of presumption of innocence and the right to defence.
He added:
The prosecution gave no evidence to support the indictment.
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