Vietnam PM to chair meeting on land revocation scandal

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Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will chair a meeting next week on a headline-grabbing land revocation case that turned violent last month in the northern port city of Hai Phong, the government website has said.

The report quoted the letter from the Government Office issued on Thursday as saying that several central agencies like the Ministry of Public Security will also attend the meeting together with the city's authorities.

On January 5, some 100 local police and soldiers from Tien Lang District stormed the house of 52-year-old Doan Van Vuon to force him to return a 19.5-hectare swampland allotted to him in 1997.

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However, Vuon and his family resisted, having been led to believe earlier that a compromise had been reached where he would no longer be asked to vacate the land.

The eviction party was resisted with improvised shotguns and homemade mines which injured six policemen and soldiers that same day.

Later four members of the family, including Vuon, were taken in on charges of murder and two others were let free to be investigated on charges of "acting against people on public mission." Police said two other members who fled the scene are still at large.

Since then the case has drawn a great deal of public attention and criticism from local experts who said the revocation was illegal, given that under Vietnam's Land Law, the right to use aquaculture land is valid for 20 years.

Dang Hung Vo, former deputy minister of Natural Resources and Environment, told the Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that Vuon should be eligible to use the land until 2017, not 2009, as claimed by the district's authorities.

Tien Lang authorities were also criticized for ordering the forces to destroy Vuon's house which wasn't located on the targeted land.

In the meantime, since the confrontation the district's authorities held two press conferences in which they kept denying the accusations.

Le Van Hien, chairman of the Tien Lang People's Committee, the local government,  for example, argued that Vuon was given the land lot on October 4, 1993, just 15 days before the Land Law of 1993 took effect, replacing the Land Law of 1987.

Although the latter stipulated that aquaculture land would be allotted for a fixed period of 20 years, Hien said Tien Lang District had every right to revoke land after 14 years as originally contracted.

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