CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 15 June 2019

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Vietnam condemns criticism

HANOI (SE): A court in Vietnam sentenced Nguyen Van Hoa, a blogger and advocate for human rights, to seven years in prison on December 4 on a charge of conducting propaganda against the state.
 
The prosecution claimed he tried to incite protests over the government handling of the devastating toxic waste spill by the Formosa Plastics Group in Ha Tinh province in April last year.
 
The industrial spill killed about 115 tonnes of fish and wiped out the fishing and tourism industries in four provinces.
 
The Taiwan-based company offered to pay US$500 million ($3.87 billion) to settle the case and compensate people affected by loss, but the government moved swiftly to quieten news on the inadequate amount of the compensation and the tardiness of the company in paying.
 
Twenty-two-year-old Nguyen had led protest movements and was arrested by police on January 11 this year along with others.
 
Radio Free Asia reported that the People’s Court in Ha Tinh province found him guilty of violating Article 88 of Vietnam’s Penal Code in a trial that lasted two-and-a-half hours and ruled that he be placed under house arrest for three years after his jail term is completed.
 
State media reported that Nguyen had produced a video, photographs and other evidence in condemnation of the company, describing them as propagating against, distorting and defaming the government.
 
A rights lawyer, Le Cong Dinh, called the ruling against Nguyen a predetermined judgment that was completely predictable.
 
Vietnam is currently holding at least 84 prisoners of conscience, the highest number in any country in Southeast Asia, according to rights group Amnesty International.

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