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 Jerusalem.
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 the courtroom.
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.