Vietnamese court convicts dissident of subversion

Prosecutors had sought a prison sentence of five to seven years, followed by three years of probation, which he was given.

Vietnamese court convicts dissident of subversion

A Vietnamese court convicted a former army officer who had pressed for democratic reforms of subversion Monday and sentenced him to 5.5 years in prison.

Tran Anh Kim, 60, was accused of "working to overthrow the state" by joining the Democratic Party of Vietnam, publishing pro-democracy articles on the Internet, and joining Bloc 8406, an organization that promotes a multiparty state.

Amid tight security, a handful of journalists watched the trial on closed circuit television at the courthouse in the coastal province of Thai Binh, a two-and-a-half hour drive southeast of Hanoi.

Prosecutors had sought a prison sentence of five to seven years, followed by three years of probation, which he was given.

A defence lawyer for Kim asked the court for leniency in consideration of his contributions as a war veteran and noted that Kim had been wounded in action and was not in good health.

Kim did not plead guilty or innocent in his final statement, but rather questioned why the authorities had taken so long to arrest and bring him to trial.

The five-and-a-half-year sentence included time served.

Four other democracy proponents -- U.S.-trained lawyer Le Cong Dinh, Nguyen Tien Trung, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc and Le Thang Long -- are due to stand trial in the coming weeks.

Analysts say these trials, plus the jailing earlier this year of nine democracy advocates, appear organised to discourage dissent in the run-up to the next Communist Party Congress scheduled for early 2011.

The Congress will chart the direction of policy in Vietnam in the coming five years and anoint several new leaders.



Agencies

Last Mod: 28 Aralık 2009, 08:48
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