» 10/02/2013, 00.00
Hanoi: 30 months in prison sentence for the Catholic lawyer Le Quoc Quan
J.B. An Dang
He will also have to pay a fine of more than ,000. The Court convicted him of tax evasion. The hearing lasted for a couple of hours and ended with the expected guilty sentence. Outside, thousands of police officers and government-hired thugs prevented entry into the courtroom to supporters of the activist.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) - The judges of the Court in Hanoi condemned
the Catholic activist and lawyer Le Quoc Quan, on trial for alleged
"evasion", to 30 months in prison and to pay a ,000 fine. The
farcical hearing lasted a couple of hours and - despite protests and appeals by
the defence - it ended with a prison sentence and heavy fine. Outside thousands
of Catholics expressed their support in the capital's streets, waving palms (pictured)
in a symbolic gesture that invokes the Sunday when Jesus makes his entry into
At first the authorities had promised a trial that would be
open to the public; however, the roads leading to the Court were blocked by a
human wall composed of police and military.
In addition to the agents, the security cordon was formed
also by pro-government thugs whom experts know very well to be inmates or
former inmates who are hired by the authorities to target and punish dissent.
For days, a succession of messages and warnings have been issued to the public,
not to organise and gather in demonstrations in anticipation of the hearing in
Together with the Catholics, many Buddhists (including one religious)
marched peacefully through the streets of Hanoi to demand the freedom of Le
Quoc Quan. Not only that, the demonstrators also demand complete freedom,
respect for human rights and an end to all acts of persecution against
believers of all religions. Earlier, the leaders of the Vietnamese
Catholic Church promoted prayer meetings and
torchlight processions for the liberation of the Catholic lawyer and activist, whose trial is another example of
"the continuing series of violations of human rights" in the country.
Catholic dissident on trial for tax evasion to defend himself
Facing false charges, Le Quoc Quan will not seek legal counsel. The authorities have hampered the defence and denied access to prosecution documents. He claims his innocence. For activists, the government is using specious accusations to clamp down on dissidents.
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He will remain in jail for 30 months and pay a US$ 57,000 fine for "tax evasion". The defendant's lawyer challenged the court, asking that his client be tried "for his activism," not on trumped-up charges. His family was not allowed to attend the trial. Outside the courthouse, more than a hundred people protested, calling for his release.
Released from prison, Vietnamese Catholic lawyer to continue human rights fight
Le Quoc Quân, a 45-year-old activist, was released from prison last Friday, after serving his term in full. He had been convicted for tax fraud on trumpeted up charges he had always denied. In the last few days before his release, he had gone on a hunger strike against mistreatment in jail. His ideals remain the same even after his imprisonment, he said.
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