Ex-soldier in Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province says he was unfairly sentenced to prison

Nguyen Ding Hung says his family faces discrimination and has been denied financial benefits.
By RFA Vietnamese
2022.10.13
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Ex-soldier in Vietnam’s Ha Tinh province says he was unfairly sentenced to prison Former Dien My commune police chief Ho Xuan Que at a hearing in 2016.
Bao Lao Dong

A former soldier in Vietnam’s central Ha Tinh province claims he was beaten by police in Dien My commune in 2015, then wrongly sentenced to prison. Nguyen Ding Hung, who served two years in the military, told RFA authorities in his village and commune also deny his family local benefits.

“They didn't say it directly, but they have restricted everyone from visiting us. They do not let us receive social support for the poor. When our region is hit by typhoons, local people receive a lot of financial and food aids but our family receives none.”

Hung said his troubles started in September 2015 when his sister-in-law Tran Thi Nhan was riding a motorbike, planning to sell seafood. Commune police illegally set up roadblocks to check local people’s movements, he said. Commune police seized Nhan's motorbike and seafood for no reason and brought it to the police station where they destroyed the goods and kept the bike, which has yet to be returned to the family, Hung said.

Hung's brother, Nguyen Dinh Hai, objected to the seizure of the vehicle and destruction of goods, as well as local police interrogating his sister-in-law. Hung said that led the then-commune police chief, Ho Xuan Que, to declare he would "punish” Hung even though he was not involved in this case.

On October 21, 2015, Hung was driving a motorbike without a helmet when Que hit him on the hand with a stick. When Hung stopped the bike, Hung said Que hit him with a stick many times and used a helmet to hit him in the stomach. The commune police chief also threatened to kill his family, Hung said. 

A few weeks later Hung was arrested by the Huong Khe district police on charges of "resisting an on-duty state official" and detained for two months. He was released on bail after just over a month and a half.

At the end of February 2016, Hung was convicted by the district court and sentenced to six months in prison even though his lawyer claimed wrongful conviction because Que did not have the authority to set up checkpoints and control traffic. Commune police also lacked written consent from the district police, which is against the law. 

Que later admitted that communal authorities decided to set up the roadblock, not the district police. However, at the appeal hearing later that year Que changed his testimony, affirming that he had performed tasks approved by the district police.

Hung appealed to the Ha Tinh Provincial Court, which transferred the file to the district authorities for re-investigation, and in the second hearing in October 2017, he was still found guilty by the district court with a six month suspended sentence.

Hung continued to appeal and in the second appeal in March 2018, the provincial court upheld the suspended sentence.

Hung told RFA that during the hearings, he accused a district police investigator named Phong of forcing him to admit fighting even though he was beaten by Que.

Hung said he did not accept the verdict and sent petitions to many agencies from the commune to the central level, including the Supreme People's Court, asking for fair hearing. He said that after submitting many petitions to the Supreme People's Court, he received a written receipt of application in 2019 but had heard nothing since.

Hung now works in agriculture and said his family faced many difficulties. Besides not being able to enjoy local benefits, he was also not allowed to do business even though he had served in the military.

“Local officials have done so much wrong, the corruption is so great and I denounced them for many things, so they hate me,” he said. “However, they can't do anything to me because I report the truth."

RFA called the Chief of Police of Dien My Commune, the Police of Huong Khe District, the Chairman of the People's Committee and the spokesman of the district as well as the Ha Tinh Provincial Court, but no one answered the phone. Tran Tuan Anh, Chief of the Office of the People's Council and People's Committee of Huong Khe District hung up after the reporter introduced himself. RFA also emailed District Chairman Ngo Xuan Ninh District Chairman but has not received a reply.

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