Ex-journalists’ trial reaches verdict in Hanoi

Former Thanh Nien reporter Nguyen Viet Chien is sentenced to two years in prison

Former Thanh Nien reporter Nguyen Viet Chien is sentenced to two years in prison

Former Thanh Nien reporter Nguyen Viet Chien is sentenced to two years in prison

The two-day trial of two ex-reporters from Thanh Nien and Tuoi Tre newspapers and two former police officials concluded Wednesday in Hanoi.

On the first day of the trial on October 14, Senior Lieutenant Colonel Dinh Van Huynh had said he would send the court his petition and in Wednesday’s trial Huynh pleaded guilty, after “having been thinking all night long.”

Huynh admitted to every charge stated in the indictment.

Huynh and Major-General Pham Xuan Quac, authorized to investigate the Project Management Unit (PMU) 18 under the Ministry of Public Security in 2006, had let the reporters know about the investigation plans even as the probes were underway, the indictment said.

Nguyen Thi Viet Hang (L), sister of reporter Nguyen Viet Chien, and some other his relatives, cry outside Hanoi Peoples Court after Chien was sentenced to two years in prison.

Nguyen Thi Viet Hang (L), sister of reporter Nguyen Viet Chien, and some other his relatives, cry outside Hanoi People's Court after Chien was sentenced to two years in prison.

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The defendants [Quac and Huynh] had also met with reporters at their offices and homes as well as on the phone to disclose information pertaining to the case to the press, the indictment said.

Notably, the defendants [Quac and Huynh] had provided the media with inaccurate and unconfirmed information relating to the case, the indictment stated.

Quac and Huynh were also accused of using unverified documents to report false information to higher authorities, causing internal misunderstanding.

Huynh had denied all such charges in Tuesday’s trial.

The other two defendants – Thanh Nien’s Nguyen Viet Chien and Tuoi Tre’s Nguyen Van Hai, were indicted for “taking advantage of democratic freedom to infringe upon the interests of the state as well as legal rights of organizations and citizens.”

The prosecutors Wednesday continued to argue against the lawyers’ defense for the defendants while the lawyers reasoned over the indictment’s key issues.

The lawyers questioned the basis for the charge of “disclosing secrets about the investigation” and the journalists’ rights and duties as stipulated in Vietnam’s Journalism Laws.

The lawyers also requested that the prosecutors identify whose interests were infringed on by the defendants’ actions, the objectiveness of the charges, the handling of evidence, and the motives of the ex-journalist defendants while covering the PMU18 case.

After the arguments, the defendants presented their final statement and the jury deliberated for 35 minutes before delivering the verdict.

The sentences for the four defendants were announced at 12:19 p.m. Wednesday.

Pham Xuan Quac received an official warning while Dinh Van Huynh will be jailed for one year.

For “taking advantage of democratic freedom to infringe upon the interests of the state as well as legal rights of organizations and citizens,” Thanh Nien’s Nguyen Viet Chien was sentenced to two years in prison and Tuoi Tre’s Nguyen Van Hai will undergo re-education without detention for 24 months, according to the Criminal Laws.

Hai was released immediately after the trial as one day of his five-month custody was counted as three days of re-education without detention.

Chien and Huynh were sent back to jail while Chien’s lawyers are preparing to launch an appeal.

Reported by An Nguyen
Ex-journalists’ trial reaches verdict in Hanoi

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