Vietnamese woman wins court battle after authorities steal forestry land

By Phuc Hung   September 20, 2016 | 05:43 am PT
The victim says $66,000 in compensation is not enough, and plans to appeal for nearly four times the amount.

The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam's southern province of Kien Giang has been ordered to pay compensation of VND1.5 billion ($66,000) for illegally seizing forest land from a local woman.

The judgment was made on September 19.

The woman, named Lang, signed a contract with the department in 2002 to use 69 hectares of forestry land to grow trees over a 50-year period, but five years later the department decided to reclaim the land to make way for 15 other households. These households then sold the forest grown by Lang for VND80-150 million ($3,500-6,600) per hectare. A small amount of the profit was contributed to the provincial budget while the rest was divided between the households and the Forest Management Board at a rate of 60-40.

Saying that the department had broken the law, Lang brought the case to court, but the first trials held in 2013 and 2014 dismissed her complaint.

It was not until the third trial that the jury decided that Kien Giang’s Department of Agriculture had unilaterally terminated the contract before the expiry date, causing losses to Lang.


Lang in court on September 19. Photo by VOV.

The jury ordered the department to pay the woman VND1.5 billion in damages.

However, Lang said that she had incurred heavier losses than the figure decided by the jury, and would appeal for VND5 billion ($220,000).

Speaking to VnExpress, Nguyen Van Tam, head of the department, said they were preparing to file an appeal as well.

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