The sentences of Dau Van Duong, who had been sentenced to 42 months in jail followed by 18 months’ house arrest, and Tran Huu Duc, who had received a sentence of 39 months’ imprisonment followed by 12 months’ house arrest, were upheld. Chu Manh Son had his sentence reduced from 36 months’ imprisonment to 30 months.
The hearing lasted less than four hours and only seven family members were permitted to attend the court proceedings.
There was a heavy police presence around the courthouse, with police officers starting to gather around 6 am and their number continuously growing until 8 am when the hearing began. According to eyewitnesses, a total of around 400 police officers were stationed outside of the courthouse, with approximately 150 officers preventing supporters of the three human rights defenders from gathering in the road. The remainder positioned themselves on the pavement on both sides of the road.
Front Line Defenders has been informed that at least 17 human rights defenders and observers, who were monitoring and documenting the progress of the trial, were briefly arrested by the police during the court hearing. They were held for questioning for close to four hours at the police stations of Vinh City before being released. Some of them were manhandled into police cars by police officers. The father of Chu Manh Son was reportedly hit with a baton by a police officer for no apparent reason in front of the courthouse where he had joined a peaceful gathering.
Front Line Defenders reiterates its calls on the Vietnamese authorities to quash the convictions of the aforementioned human rights defenders and to effect their immediate and unconditional release.
For further information on this case, please see the Front Line Defenders update dated 24 September 2012, a joint letter co-authored by Front Line Defenders and several other international NGO’s, dated 27 August 2012,and a Front Line Defenders urgent appreal, dated 14 November 2011.