Trial begins over deaths of policemen in Hanoi's Dong Tam Commune

By Pham Du   September 7, 2020 | 11:00 pm GMT+7
Trial begins over deaths of policemen in Hanoi's Dong Tam Commune
Defendants at the Hanoi People's Court on September 7, 2020. Photo courtesy of Vietnam Government Portal.

A 10-day trial began Monday of 29 defendants for their alleged involvement in the murder of three policemen in Hanoi's Dong Tam Commune earlier this year.

All the defendants are residents of Hoanh and Dong Mit villages in Dong Tam of Hanoi's My Duc District. Among them, 25 are charged with murder with penalties ranging from 12 years in prison to the death sentence. Four others are accused of resisting on-duty officers, a charge carrying penalties ranging 2-7 years in prison.

The indictment says that Le Dinh Kinh, the 84-year-old civilian killed in the clash, his son, Le Dinh Cong and other people set up a "group of consensus" to re-occupy and divide the disputed land lot in the commune’s Senh field among themselves. The land had been allocated "for defense purposes."

In November 2019, the Ministry of Defense prepared a plan to build a fence to protect the Mieu Mon airport that would use part of Dong Tam land.

Learning about this plan, Kinh directed Cong in December 2019 to discuss with members of the group the purchase of grenades and preparation of weapons to attack the police.

In the early hours on January 9, when the police arrived at the gate of Hoanh Village, about 50 m from Kinh’s house, the group allegedly used handmade weapons to attack the police force, causing three police officers to fall into a pit near Kinh’s house. Le Dinh Chuc and Le Dinh Doanh allegedly poured gasoline into the pit and setting it alight, killing the three policemen.

The authorized force found Kinh holding a grenade and calling on others to resist, so they shot him. Kinh was wounded and died later.

Investigations found that Kinh and four others were the masterminds who directed the violent protests and pushed others to kill the policemen.

The indictment says the police shooting Kinh dead was a "necessary and legal" action.

At the trial, Le Dinh Cong, one of the four alleged masterminds, said he regretted the protest and asked the court for leniency.

"I want to apologize to the families of the three policemen who died and asked for their forgiveness. I have realized my mistakes. I have sincerely reported to the investigating agency and the court, and would like to ask for forgiveness," Cong said.

The panel of judges did not accept a request for relatives of the defendants to attend the trial, saying the 29 defendants were qualified to be tried for criminal liability without need of guardians.

Thirty-three defense lawyers are engaged in the case – 15 hired by the defendants or their families and the remaining 18 appointed by the court to defend other defendants.

 
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