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Catholic lawyer Paul Le Cong Dinh (standing) speaking at a conference last year.

Catholic lawyer among jailed dissidents


January 21 2010

BANGKOK (UCAN) -- A Catholic lawyer, accused of trying to overthrow the government, has been sentenced to five years' imprisonment.

Three other dissidents charged with similar offences were also sentenced to jail terms and house arrest on Jan. 20 by the People's Court in Ho Chi Minh City.

Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, 43, was sent to prison for 16 years followed by five years' house arrest.

The youngest, Nguyen Tien Trung, 26, was sentenced to seven years in jail followed by three years under house arrest.

Le Thang Long from Ha Noi, 42, was given a five-year prison sentence and three years under house arrest.

The Catholic lawyer, Paul Le Cong Dinh, who was arrested last June, reportedly joined the U.S.-based Vietnam Democratic Party, run by Vietnamese-American dissidents.

Dinh, 41, who had been a successful Ho Chi Minh City commercial lawyer, admitted at the court that he had worked with overseas "reactionary organizations" to change political institutions in Vietnam.

Trung, who obtained a master's degree in informative technology at Institut National des Sciences Appliquees in France in 2007, worked for a French company in Ho Chi Minh city before his arrest last year.

The other two defendants, who had been successful businessmen, denied all allegations.

Observers believe that the tough sentences against the men were designed as a signal to pro-democracy activists in the run-up to the Communist Party's congress held in 2011.

VT08594.1585 January 21, 2010 28 EM-lines (230 words)