Village dignitary out of hospital following Vietnam hostage crisis

By VnExpress   May 3, 2017 | 10:30 pm GMT+7

The 82-year-old man suffered a broken thigh during his arrest over a high-profile land dispute that has rocked the nation.

A village elder has returned home to Hoanh Village in My Duc District after being injured in a land dispute that led locals to take 38 government officials and police officers hostage.

Le Dinh Kinh, 82, a highly respected village elder, was greeted by cheers as an ambulance dropped him off.

Sitting in his home, Kinh smiled and greeted well-wishers who came to visit him.

“He looks well but he has lost 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds)," said Le Dinh Cong, Kinh's son. "His leg still hurts and it will be about a month before he can walk again. Lots of villagers have come to celebrate his return, but we don't want to overcrowd him for the sake of his health."

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Kinh greets his visitors. Photo by VnExpress/Gia Chinh.

Kinh said that while he was in hospital, city leaders and police had visited him to wish him a speedy recovery. Among them, Hanoi Mayor Nguyen Duc Chung visited him about ten times. After learning that Kinh had broken his thigh, Chung drafted in three surgeons to operate on him.

From his hospital bed, the 82-year-old man continued to hold discussions with authorities. He praised Chung for talking directly with the people, and promised to solve the crisis in a just manner.

“I look forward to hearing the city inspectors' decision on June 20," Kinh said. "It's Chung's responsibility to clarify the dispute as promised. That's the only way of restoring the people's confidence in Party's leadership.” 

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Kinh (right) discusses with other village elders, one day after returning from hospital. Photo by VnExpress/Pham Du.

Kinh is recovering well after surgery, according to an official from Viet Duc Hospital.

"It will take a while for him to walk normally again," the doctor said. "The hospital called on the best doctors to perform his surgery, using the most modern drugs and equipment." 

Kinh was one of the four people in Dong Tam Commune arrested on April 15 following public unrest over a land dispute in the area. During the arrest, he was injured and hospitalized with a broken thigh.

A day later, Kinh's arrest was overturned. On April 17, Hanoi police released the arrested locals and villagers released 15 police officers after three officers had escaped.

On April 20, Mayor Chung visited My Duc District to hold talks with villagers from Dong Tam Commune, but they refused to attend the meeting.

The meeting was rescheduled for April 22, where Chung promised to get to the bottom of the dispute. He also said authorities would investigate Kinh's arrest and not press charges against the villagers. In return, the villagers released the remaining hostages, ending the crisis.

Le Dinh Kinh is a highly respected elder, according to Le Dinh Ba, one of the four villagers arrested by the police. Kinh has been a member of the Vietnamese Communist Party for over 60 years, and has held several important positions in the commune.

In 2013, Kinh joined the “Consensus Group” in Dong Tam Commune to demand that people's rights be respected, and his arrest was one of the reasons locals decided to take matters into their own hands.