Vietnam prosecutors recommend punishments in terrorism trial

By Quoc Thang   January 18, 2024 | 03:24 pm PT
Vietnam prosecutors recommend punishments in terrorism trial
H Wuen Eban (C) stands at a trial for deadly attacks on People's Committee offices in Dak Lak, Jan. 18, 2024. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam News Agency
Vietnam’s judiciary recommended Thursday two people be sentenced to death on terrorism charges for killing nine people in bloody raids they orchestrated on local government offices in the highlands last year.

A trial for 100 people involved in the deadly attacks on the People’s Committee offices Dak Lak Province’s rural Ea Ktur and Ea Tieu communes continued on Thursday, with prosecutors saying that the indictment on formal charges of terrorism, brokering illegal entry and concealing crimes was correct based on confessions and evidence collected by authorities.

Specifically, members of the group MSGI (Support Group for Montagnards), based in the U.S., and the MSFJ (Montagnards Stand For Justice) organization based in Thailand, coaxed certain ethnic minority community members in Dak Lak and neighboring areas to form armed groups that performed terrorist acts to instill fear and affect security and order in the region.

Y Mut Mlo, Y But Eban, Y Nie Eya, Y Ciu Nie, Y Chanh Bya and Y Quynh Bdap, who were in exile in the U.S., had coaxed people to join their reactionary cause.

Bdap is currently on the run and wanted.

For two of the accused, the group’s ringleaders H Wuen Eban and Y Sol Nie, prosecutors recommended death sentences for terrorism in opposition to the people's government.

Eleven others were recommended life sentences as accomplices on the same charge. Ten were recommended jail sentences between 18-20 years, and 30 were recommended jail sentences between 7-15 years.

For terrorism, 45 people were recommended 4-11 years in jail. Among them, six are currently on the run and wanted abroad.

One person was recommended 24-30 months in jail for brokering illegal entry, while another was recommended 12-15 months in jail for concealing crimes.

Prosecutors from Dak Lak said Y Mut Mlo, the ringleader of MSGI, had been persuading H Wuen Eban to join armed activities and launch attacks, including murder and the destruction of property, since 2015.

Mlo also introduced Eban to other members of MSGI, including Y Chik Nie, Y Nien Eya, Y But Eban, Y Chanh Bya and Y Sol Nie.

In August 2018, Bdap illegally crossed the border to enter Thailand and formed the MSFJ to incite people of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands to perform terrorist acts.

In 2019, Eban joined MSGI to seek material support from outside of Vietnam to attack authorities in an attempt to form the so-called "Degar State" in the Central Highlands. "Degar" is a term used for Montagnards groups.

From 2019 to June 2023, Eban recruited people from Dak Lak villages to establish armed groups, as well as calling for funds to buy weapons.

Eban and his accomplices also threatened many to force them to join the armed groups. MSGI often sent money to Eban to pay for living expenses and other costs of the armed groups.

In early 2023, Eban requested permission from MSGI to allow armed groups to perform terrorist acts in Vietnam, including the murdering of innocent people and the destruction of property, to instill fear in the community. Y Sol Nie returned to Vietnam to help Eban with coordinating the terrorist acts.

On May 12, 2023, Nie came to Thailand from the U.S. and contacted Eban on how to return to Vietnam without being detected. Eban enlisted people to help Nie enter Vietnam, and Nie, along with Eban and others in the armed groups, devised plans and chose locations to attack authorities and steal weapons, among other acts.

They then chose the People’s Committee offices of Ea Ktur and Ea Tieu communes as their targets, as their remote, rural locations would make it easier for them to attack and retreat from.

Nie and Eban then approved the violent groups to attack the two sites, telling them to destroy everything and kill everyone present. Stealing weapons was also stated as a main goal.

The perpetrators were also instructed to expand their attacks to other sites.

Upon completion of such raids, those enlisted in the acts were also ordered to plant the flag of the so-called "Degar State" and record videos to promote their image.

Authorities said that on June 9 and 10 last year, the terrorists trained among themselves and created weapons in preparation to execute the plots. At night on June 10, they split into two groups: one of 33 people and another with 34, to visit the bloody attacks on two People’s Committee offices, which also housed local police stations.

The attacks killed two officials, three police officers, and four civilians, as well as injuring people.

A verdict is expected to be reached Saturday afternoon.

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