HCMC jails two for smashing police bikes during SEZ protest

By Lan Ngoc   October 8, 2018 | 04:00 am PT
HCMC jails two for smashing police bikes during SEZ protest
Nguyen Van Tuan (L) and Truong Ngoc Hien at a trial in HCMC on Monday. Photo by VnExpress/Lan Ngoc
A HCMC court Monday punished four men with varying prison terms for damaging two police motorbikes last June.

Nguyen Van Tuan, 30, received the highest sentence of three years in jail and a fine of VND9.5 million ($406).

Truong Ngoc Hien, 21, got two years in jail, while Nguyen Huynh Duc, 18, and Bui Van Tien, 17, received one-year suspended sentence.

They are all charged with “disturbance of public order.”

The indictment said that on June 10, the four men joined many others in a protest against Vietnam’s proposed draft law on special economic zones (SEZs).

As they marched to the inner city, police tried to stop the crowd but were forced to retreat, leaving behind two motorbikes.

Tuan, Hien, Duc and Tien then smashed the bikes and several public buses.

Tuan told the court that he had received VND400,000 ($17) from an unknown woman to join the protest and was given sticks to damage property.

Hien, Duc and Tien said they received invitations to join the protest on Facebook, and just followed the crowd.

All four defendants told the court that they regretted their actions.

The protest in HCMC was among several that erupted in Vietnam on June 10 and 11. Thousands of people also took to the streets in Hanoi, Da Nang and several provinces, with banners and signs calling for the SEZ draft law to be scrapped.

They specifically objected a provision that would allow foreign investors to lease land for 99 years, saying that such a law would allow foreign countries to undermine Vietnam’s sovereignty.

With Vietnam delaying passage of the Law on Demonstration several times, all acts to incite public protests are deemed illegal.

Following the demonstrations, the National Assembly deferred the passing of the law for further discussions.

Police have since detained hundreds of protesters and said they had uncovered evidence that the protests were anti-state actions incited by organizations based in other countries using false, distorted information about the draft law.

Dozens of protesters have been imprisoned in Dong Nai, Binh Thuan and Khanh Hoa Provinces.

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