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Farmer gets five years for fighting eviction

Outcry over sentence in high-profile case reporter, Hai Phong

April 5, 2013

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Peter Doan Van Vuon, a farmer who fought police and security guards when they tried to evict him, has been sentenced to five years in prison for attempted murder.

The People’s Court of Hai Phong City today sentenced Vuon and his brother Doan Van Quy to five years each. Two other brothers were given jail sentences of 42 months and two years respectively.

The court also ordered 15 months probation for Vuon’s wife Nguyen Thi Thuong and 18 months probation for Quy’s wife Pham.

The sentences have sparked an immediate outcry, with many complaints that they are excessive.

Nguyen Xuan Dien, an activist in Hanoi, said “this is an unfair sentence. Vuon and his relatives should have been released and compensated for the losses they suffered.”

Lawyer Nguyen Viet Hung, who represented the defendants, told the BBC: “I had hoped for less severe sentences. The defendants are not satisfied and they will lodge an appeal.”

This has been a high profile case which has elevated Vuon to national folk hero status and prompted luminaries including Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to speak out on his behalf. Dung said that the district authorities were “completely wrong about the land allocation, the terms of land use, and the eviction of Vuon by force.”

Bishop Paul Nguyen Thai Hop of Vinh, president of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace, and Bishop Joseph Vu Van Thien of Hai Phong also signed petitions for his release.

In January 2012, Vuon and his family used homemade weapons to resist 100 police officers and soldiers when they attempted to forcibly evict them from their farm and home. 

Five district officials who allegedly ordered the policemen and soldiers to level Vuon’s farm and demolish his two-storey home will face charges of destruction of citizens’ property Their trial begins on April 8. 

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