01/13/2009, 00.00
VIETNAM

Ruling against eight Thai Ha Catholics to be appealed

Hanoi’s Court of Appeal will hear the request for trial review. Despite the light sentence the defendants want their names cleared. False reports by state media were one of the factors triggering their appeal.

Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Hanoi’s Court of Appeal will hear the case involving eight Catholics sentenced by a lower court in the Thai Ha parish church case (prayer vigil pictured), in Hanoi. Last Wednesday the Court of Appeal accepted in fact to hear the appeal and will announce the date of the new hearing within two months.

The defendants are appealing what they consider an unfair ruling by the Ba Dinh’s People’s Court for “disorderly conduct” and “damaging state property” because they were not allowed to present any evidence in their own defence.

Although the sentence is surprisingly lenient, 12 to 17 months without an administrative warning—due according to the defendants to the worldwide publicity their case received—, they still seek the truth and want to be exonerated of all charges.

The appeal is the next and final step in their quest for this goal.

Another factor that contributed to their decision to appeal is the false reports about the case presented by state media during and after the trial.

Defendants and witnesses reported that the former pleaded not guilty before the court. But state media, especially the New Hanoi News and Vietnam Television 1, deliberately reported that the “all defendants had admitted their guilt, acknowledging that they had done wrongful things in violation of the law.”

Two complaints were filed against state media for this kind of malpractice to show the world how immoral and unreliable they actually are.

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