Provincial court rejects lawsuits filed against Taiwanese fish killer Formosa

By Toan Dao   October 8, 2016 | 07:48 pm PT
Provincial court rejects lawsuits filed against Taiwanese fish killer Formosa
Hundreds of people gather at the court in Ky Anh District, Ha Tinh Province to sue Formosa Ha Tinh Steel for compensation. Photo by VnExpress
A local judge said current law prohibits the court from hearing the 506 petitions.

A court in Ha Tinh Province rejected 506 petitions for compensation filed by fishermen and other residents affected by Formosa Ha Tinh Steel's release of toxic chemicals, local media reported Saturday.

The local unit of the Formosa Plastics Group, a Taiwanese conglomerate, flushed the toxins through a kilometer-long wastewater pipe causing a massive fish kill off the coast of Ha Tinh and three other central provinces, last April.

The impact has gone down as one of the biggest environmental disasters in the country's history.

“On the afternoon of October 5, the People’s Court in Ky Anh Town (in Ha Tinh) returned 506 complaints against Formosa Ha Tinh based on the provisions of the law,” the Phap luat Thanh pho Ho Chi Minh (HCMC Law) news site reported Saturday, quoting Nguyen Van Thang, chief justice of the Ha Tinh People’s Court.

Thang described the ruling as twofold. 

Firstly, the petitioners failed to submit legal evidence detailing how their interests had been directly affected. Secondly, the current Civil Procedure Code of Vietnam bars a court from issuing a ruling on a given incident if a binding decision on the events in question has been issued by an authorized government entity. 

On September 26 and 27, locals filed petitions for a total of VND56 billion ($2.47 million) in compensation from Formosa Ha Tinh.

On September 29, 2016 the Prime Minister issued Decision 1880 regarding the compensation for those affected by the Formosa environmental disaster in the four central provinces. 

The 506 petitioners broke down thusly: 296 fishermen, 137 salt producers, 68 water producers, 3 fish farmers and 2 seafood traders.

The toxic pollution caused by Formosa caused financial losses to at least 200,000 people, the government said in a report presented to the National Assembly, Vietnam's legislature, in July.

Formosa has already paid $500 million in compensation to the Vietnamese government. 

Deputy Minister of Agriculture Vu Van Tam said it would take at least until October 15 to complete a full audit of the affected parties. Following that date, he said, provincial governments will be able to receive their compensation packages and distribute them, accordingly.

To speed up the process, the government allocated VND3 trillion ($133.6 million) to the four coastal provinces directly devastated by the toxic spill to disburse as needed.

Related news:

Vietnamese fishermen descend on court to sue Taiwanese fish killer

Vietnam to dole out compensation to citizens hit by Formosa's toxic spill

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