Police in Hanoi have charged farmers who were involved in a land dispute with murdering three police officers. On June 12, the police department in Vietnam’s capital Hanoi decided to “prosecute 29 farmers for fighting and decimating forces on duty.” They accused 25 farmers aged 27 to 77 of murdering three police officers on Jan. 9. The accused are also charged with using knives, grenades and gas to attack police. Police said their acts were barbarous, thuggish and fatal and must be severely punished. The other four farmers — two men and two women aged 20 to 57 — are charged with obstructing police officers on duty.
All the accused are from Dong Tam commune on the outskirts of Hanoi. Seven of them are children and relatives of Le Dinh Kinh, a commune leader and party member. Kinh, 84, was accused of using one grenade and a knife to attack police officers and was shot dead by police during a raid on his house on Jan. 9. Police said Kinh had led protesters since 2013 to protect 32.57 hectares of their farmland. In 2015, the Ministry of National Defence took their farmland for the military-run Viettel Group, Vietnam’s largest mobile phone operator, to build a military airport. Kinh was accused of inciting protesters to prevent the construction of the project. In April 2017, police arrested several farmers for allegedly causing social unrest during a clash over the land. Police have rejected Du Thi Thanh’s demand to prosecute those who killed her husband Kinh and damaged her house. Police said her demand was unfounded. Activist Trinh Ba Tu said the police accusations are unreasonable. There is no evidence to show that three officers burned to death in a well at the house of Le Dinh Chuc, Kinh’s son, at 3am on Jan. 9, he said. The building’s wood was not damaged or destroyed by fire. He said it is unbelievable that the three officers fell into the four-meter-deep well. The farmers could not pour gas down the well from a balcony while they were under horrific attack from police officers, he added. Tu said the police claim was ungrounded. “It is only used to explain that police forces brutally attacked local people at night like in the Middle Ages,” he said. Some activists said it is unfair that police forces who had attacked the farmers later investigated the case. They said some victims were severely tortured to accept police accusations and their images on national television showed bruises and wounds on their bodies. Lawyers have not met them all and have met some of them only once. Activists said police had accused the farmers as a way of denying their murder of Kinh.
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