The two men, Le Dinh Cong, 56 and Le Dinh Chuc, 40 were found guilty of murder.
Cong’s son, 32-year-old Le Dinh Doanh, was sentenced to life in prison for the same charge.
Bui Viet Hieu, 77 was sentenced to 16 years. Nguyen Quoc Tien and Nguyen Van Tuyen were given 13 and 12 year jail sentences, respectively.
The verdict noted that the six defendants aimed to carry out the crime despite warnings from police at the scene. They discussed, made specific assignments and prepared to execute their plan to “directly commit the crime with the aim of killing as many police officers as possible…”
The defendants exhibited aggression and violence in “killing more than two people who were law enforcement officers.” For throwing grenades at the police and causing fatal damage, they were guilty of “using the method of killing many.” The fact that the grenade did not explode was not intended by the defendants, the court said.
Cong was a mastermind behind the meetings set up to organize the protests. He live streamed a video in which he declared between 300 and 500 police officers would be killed. He bought grenades and instructed other villagers to make petrol bombs. This defendant’s behavior was one of the reasons that led to the death of the three policemen, the verdict said.
Chuc, Cong’s half brother, and Doanh together poured petrol into the hole after the three policemen fell into it. Because Doanh’s family members, Cong (father) and Chuc (uncle), have been sentenced to death, the judges said they gave him a life sentence on “humanitarian” considerations.
Hieu was identified as one of the leaders of the “consensus group” and threw petrol bombs at the police. However, the defendant committed the crime at the age of over 70 and did not directly cause the deaths of the policemen, so he was given a lighter punishment, the verdict said.
Twenty-three other defendants were all punished for “resisting law enforcement officers in performance of his/her official duties”.
These included Bui Thi Noi, 62 who got the longest jail time of six years in this group.
The following defendants got five years in prison for the same charge: Nguyen Van Quan, 40; Le Dinh Uy, 27; Le Dinh Quang, 36; Bui Van Tien, 51; and Le Dinh Quan, 44.
Of the remaining 17 three received three-year sentences; 14 got suspended sentences ranging from 15 months to 30 months and were released at the court if they did not have any other criminal case against them.
The judges altered the charge from ‘murder’ to ‘resisting on-duty officers’ for 19 defendants.
The judges said Le Dinh Kinh, the 84-year-old civilian killed in the clash, his son Cong and Hieu were the main instigators of the crime. The 19 followers had a wrong perception of what they were doing, and participated in a “group of consensus” set up by Kinh, Cong and other people to commit illegal acts.
Most of the 19 defendants were present at Kinh’s home on the night of January 8 to discuss plans and participated in the attack on the police the following morning, the judges noted.
These 19 defendants were peasants with limited legal understanding who were lured into the illegal actions and acted as assistants to a certain extent. They said they aimed to resist the law enforcement personnel, but did not intend to kill anyone. The judges said they altered the charge for them for these reasons.
Twenty-nine defendants at the court, September 14. Photo courtesy of Vietnam News Agency.
The deadly clash took place in January this year in Hanoi’s Dong Tam Commune, My Duc District. All 29 defendants are residents of Hoanh and Dong Mit villages.
The indictment said that Kinh, Cong and other people set up a “group of consensus” to re-occupy and divide a land lot in the commune’s Senh field among themselves. The land had been allocated for defense purposes.
In November 2019 the Ministry of Defense prepared a plan to build a fence to protect the Mieu Mon airport that would use part of Dong Tam Commune land.
Learning about this plan, Kinh directed Cong in December 2019 to discuss with members of the group the purchase of grenades and preparation of weapons to attack the police.
On December 31 some units of the Ministry of National Defense, in collaboration with local authorities, began building a fence for the Mieu Mon airport, which covers more than 236 hectares in communes of My Luong, Tran Phu, Dong Lac in Chuong My District and Dong Tam in My Duc District.
To oppose this, some people in the “consensus group” in Dong Tam stopped the truck carrying materials to the site.
In the early hours on January 9 when the police arrived at the gate of Hoanh Village, about 50 meters from Kinh’s house, the group used handmade weapons to attack the police force, causing three police officers to fall into a pit near Kinh’s house. Chuc and Doanh then poured gasoline into the pit and set it alight, killing the three policemen.
The authorized law enforcement personnel found Kinh holding a grenade and calling on others to resist, so they shot him. Kinh was wounded and died later.
The indictment said the police shooting Kinh dead was a “necessary and legal” action.
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