02/26/2009, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Intimidation campaign against lawyer for faithful of Thai Ha

With no explanation, a search has been conducted of the office of the lawyer handling a lawsuit against the media of the regime. A letter from the Lawyers' Association details the accusations against him by the police, and an article in the Security newspaper discusses fraudulent income.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/EDA) - The Vietnamese authorities have launched a campaign of intimidation against the lawyer for the faithful of the parish of Thai Ha sentenced for "disorderly conduct" and "damaging state property." The lawyer Lê Tran Luât is also handling a lawsuit by the defendants, accusing the state media of false reporting on the trial. In particular, admissions of responsibility were attributed to the defendants, when instead they had proclaimed their innocence.

Yesterday, according to Eglises d’Asie, the website of the parish of Thai Ha reported a search by the police at the lawyer's office, in Ho Chi Minh City. The lawyer was not there, because he was in Hanoi for the lawsuit of the faithful of Thai Ha. Computers and other articles belonging to the lawyer were confiscated. Eyewitnesses protested, but received no explanation. Some of them were taken away by the officers.

This is not the first action that the authorities have undertaken against the attorney Luât, who in addition to defending the faithful of Thai Ha, also works with people unjustly deprived of their land, or victims of other abuses. On February 10, an official letter from the Lawyers' Association of the province of Ninh Thuân, where he is registered, informed him that the police and the magistrature of the province had told the association about certain infractions he was suspected of committing in exercising his profession, and summoned him to explain these alleged infractions. On February 24, the newspaper Security of Ho Chi Minh City (Bao Công An Thanh Phô Hô Chi Minh) published an article stating that it had received a great number of complaints against the lawyer, accusing him of fraudulent income. The article seems to have been intended to prepare public opinion for measures against the attorney.

Luât himself has revealed that on the morning of the 24th, someone phoned him to warn him that a press campaign was being prepared against him, and asking him to have nothing more to do with the Thai Ha affair, and in particular to withdraw the accusations against the media of the regime.

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