A court in southern Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday sentenced 20 people to prison terms ranging from two to 24 years on terrorism charges for their role in the bombing two years ago of a police station in the city, according to media sources.
Seventeen of the group were found guilty of acts of terrorism, and three of illegally using explosives, in the two-day trial in which all 20 had pleaded guilty, the Reuters news service said in a Sept. 22 report, adding that the defendants will be held under house arrest on the completion of their terms.
The trial comes amid a spate of arrests in Vietnam of independent journalists, bloggers, and other dissident voices as authorities already intolerant of dissent seek to stifle critics in the run-up to the ruling Communist Party congress in January.
The June 20, 2018 bomb attack wrecked the police station of Ward 12 in the city’s Tan Binh district, leaving one officer injured, and was blamed by authorities on a Canada-based exile group called Trieu Dai Viet Nguyen, or the Viet Nguyen Dynasty.
A second attack was planned for the police station at the Tam Hiep ward of Dong Nai province’s Bien Hoa City but was never carried out, state media sources said.
Nguyen Tuan Thanh and his father, Nguyen Khanh, 56, residents of the Ho Nai 3 commune in Dong Nai’s Trang Bom district, were arrested and charged with directing others to carry out the first attack and for plotting the second, police sources said in advance of the trial.
State media said that both men had confessed to close ties with the exiled Ngo Hung, commander-in-chief of the Viet Nguyen Dynasty, with Ngo naming Nguyen Khanh as head of a proposed Dong Nai Autonomous Area and sending him VND 120 million (U.S. $5,300) to finance the bombings.
Prosecutors said during the trial that additional attacks carried out by the group included a bombing earlier that same year in Hau Giang province, with no casualties reported, and a bombing in Kien Giang province in which the bomber himself was killed.
In an interview with RFA in 2018, Ngo Hung confirmed the explosion in Ho Chi Minh City was directed by his group and demanded that Vietnam free the arrested men. He is now being sought by Vietnamese police.
Attempts by RFA to reach defendants’ lawyers and family members for comment on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Other recent attacks
Vietnamese activists opposed to Vietnam’s one-party communist government have been implicated in several bomb attacks in recent years, with a court in Binh Duong province in April sentencing one man to more than a decade in prison for setting off a bomb at the provincial tax office last year, according to state media.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, Truong Duong, a 40-year-old truck driver, had received payment from the U.S.-based Provisional Government of Vietnam exile group under the leadership of Dao Minh Quan, which Vietnam declared a terrorist organization in 2018.
The Provisional Government of Vietnam is also accused of masterminding a petrol bomb attack that destroyed hundreds of motorbikes at a police warehouse in Dong Nai in April 2017 and an attempted attack on Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City later that same month.
Vietnam has issued international arrest warrants for Quan and six other members of the organization, all of whom are living either in the U.S. or in Canada.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huy Le. Written in English by Richard Finney.