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Court denies appeal of rights advocate

VINH (UCAN): People’s Court of Nghe An province in north-central Vietnam, has been criticised for upholding the five-year prison sentence of jailed Catholic rights advocate, Nguyen Van Oai, who was arrested in January last year.
The appeals court upheld the prison term on January 15, plus four years’ probation on the charge of resisting security officers and violating the terms of probation from an earlier conviction that saw Nguyen imprisoned from 2013-2015 for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government. 
Only Nguyen’s mother and wife were able to attend the court proceedings as relatives and supporters were prevented from entering and surrounded by police and security officials outside.
Eyewitnesses said that at least five supporters were badly beaten and detained at a police station. Police also confiscated several banners proclaiming support for Nguyen along with the mobile phones of some protesters.
Ha Huy Son, Nguyen’s lawyer, said after the trial that the court had illegally convicted him saying that police and authorities had violated the law when they arbitrarily entered his house without permission on multiple ocassions. 
“He properly acted in self-defense by forcing them out of his home,” Ha said.
The lawyer also pointed out that the “ that police appeared as witnesses at the trial” but none of Nguyen’s neighbours were called to testify. He said the judge refused to entertain his comments against the conviction.
The father of one, the 36-year-old Nguyen participated in anti-China protests and protested the imprisonment of rights advocate. He also took part in protests against Taiwanese steel company, Formosa, which was responsible for a toxic waste disaster along the central coast of Vietnam in April 2016.
Human Rights Watch said the Vietnamese authorities should drop charges of violating probation against Nguyen and allow him to go home.
“Nguyen Van Oai and many other brave Vietnamese risk their personal safety and freedom to advocate for democracy and human rights,” the group’s Asia director, Brad Adams, said. 
Human Rights Watch said that more than 100 advocates are currently imprisoned in Vietnam for exercising their basic freedoms of expression, assembly, association and religion.

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