Vietnam Le Cong Dinh sentenced to 5-year prison sentence
On 20 January 2010, prominent human rights lawyer Le Cong Dinh was sentenced to 5 years in prison. In recent years he has defended journalists, writers, human rights activists, bloggers and lawyers. He also regularly published through media that are deemed ‘subversive’ by the Vietnamese government.
On 13 June 2009 members of the Vietnamese security service invaded the office of Le Cong Dinh and arrested him for ‘conspiring with national and foreign reactionaries with the purpose of sabotaging the state of Vietnam’. Following his arrest he was put in solitary confinement for weeks. During this period the Ministry of Public Safety stated that Le Cong Dinh had made a confession, which was later broadcast on television. Human rights organizations believe that the confession was made under pressure. Le Cong Dinh was also disbarred by the Bar Association, disabling him to practice as a lawyer.
The trial of Le Cong Dinh started on 20 January 2010. Initially he was charged with ‘the spreading of subversive propaganda’, which is punishable with a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, according to article 88 of the penal code. In December 2009 however ‘trying to overthrow the government’ was added to the charges. According to article 79 this is punishable by death.
The prosecution of Le Cong Dinh is, as is often the case in similar cases, based on the very broad and vaguely formulated article 88. Several members of the UN Human Rights Council appealed to Vietnam, even before the arrest of Le Cong Dinh, to change this article. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent Vietnam is prepared to do change it.
L4L would like to thank everyone who has participated in the letter writing campaign for Le Cong Dinh which it initiated in January 2010. It will continue the monitor the case of Mr. Le Cong Dinh closely and pursue his release with dedication.
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