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Vietnam Sentences 4 Pro-Democracy Activists

Nguoi-Viet.com, Posted: Jan 26, 2010

Vietnam sentenced four pro-democracy activists to up to 16 years in prison for promoting multiparty democracy.

The most well known of the four defendants, U.S.-trained human rights attorney Le Cong Dinh, received a five-year sentence after judges at the Saigon Peoples Court deliberated for just a half-hour. The court apparently showed leniency because Dinh acknowledged breaking the law during his testimony.

''From the bottom of my heart, I myself and these three other defendants had no intention to overthrow the government,'' Dinh told the court.

The stiffest sentence in the one-day trial was given to Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, an Internet entrepreneur, who testified that he had sought ways to improve Vietnam's political culture and root out corruption, but insisted he had done nothing wrong.

Dịnh, Thuc and a third defendant could have been sentenced to death.

Western diplomats and human rights groups slammed the verdict, saying the defendants had been punished for peacefully expressing their political views.

The trial came as factions jockey for power in advance of next years Communist Party congress, and some observers have speculated that the current crackdown on dissent is connected to the upcoming political transition. Vietnam has convicted 10 other democracy activists in the last three months.



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