09/23/2016, 09.25
VIETNAM
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Hanoi, Catholic blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh back in prison

He must serve five years in prison. He was sentenced along with his assistant for having "violated the interests of the state" by publishing articles online. The defense lawyers argue that the trial was not democratic: "The accusation is based on false evidence, and under the current Penal Code Vinh is innocent."

 

Hanoi (AsiaNews / RFA) - A legal court in Hanoi has rejected the request for appeal of the Catholic blogger Nguyen Huu Vinh, who will have to return to prison to serve five years. The man was sentenced last March along with his assistant for publishing online articles against the state.

Nguyen Huu Vinh, 60, is a former police officer and has been linked in the past with the Vietnamese Communist Party. Arrested in May 2014, Huu Vinh and his assistant were tried after six months of unjustified detention for violation of Article 258, which punishes "abuses of freedom and democracy" and "violating state interests".

Founded in 2007, his blog "Ba Sam" published articles and essays against the Hanoi government, and had millions of viewers. The space also hosted a forum to launch fierce accusations against Beijing's "imperialist" policy  in the South China Sea.

Tran Vu Hai, a lawyer defending the blogger, has lashed out at the court's decision, declaring that the procedures of the trial in the courtroom were "undemocratic." When the hearing began, the lawyer said, "the Chief Justice said that he listened to both sides, but then rejected all our arguments. In some moments he was clearly in favor of the accusers and finally issued this ruling".

Defense lawyers continue to repeat that Vinh’s sentencing is based on false evidence and that "under the new Penal Code of Vietnam, he is innocent." The Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), based in Paris, has condemned the decision of the Hanoi court and appealed to the Vietnamese government to cease "the continued repression of peaceful dissidents". According to the organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), there are between 150 and 200 bloggers and activists detained in Vietnamese prisons

In past years, Vinh was also subject to beatings for covering trials against human rights activists and abuse against the Catholic community in the capital.

Although locked up in prison, the blogger has made his voice heard during the pollution scandal that hit the central provinces of Vietnam in recent months, accusing Hanoi of having repressed peaceful protests

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