District official arrested for illegal land revocation in northern Vietnam

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Police in the northern city of Hai Phong arrested Monday a former district official for ordering a high profile case of illegal land revocation early this year.


Nguyen Van Khanh, former deputy chairman of Tien Lang District People's Committee, will be detained for four months to allow the police to investigate him on charge of "damaging properties," Senior Lieutenant Pham Duy Dien of Hai Phong police told Thanh Nien.


Three other officials of Tien Lang District are also investigated on the same charge, but were not arrested, Dien said.


Damaging properties may carry a prison sentence of up to seven years.


On January 5, authorities ordered some 100 local police and soldiers to storm the house of Doan Van Vuon, a 53-year-old farmer in Vinh Quang Commune, to force him to return more than 50 hectares of farmland, saying his rights to use the land had expired.


Vuon had refused to leave the land on which he had built a shrimp farm and homes for his extended family.


He and other family members ambushed the police and soldiers, using improvised shotguns and homemade mines. They injured six policemen and soldiers that day. Two homes were destroyed during the confrontation.


Vuon and other even family members were taken into police custody afterwards.


Following the incident, Vuon and his family lodged a complaint against the revocation team for destroying the house of Doan Van Quy, Vuon's brother, although the house was not part of the revoked land.


The revocation was called by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as "illegal" as Vuon's case could not be categorized as one of the five kinds of cases in which authorities are allowed to revoke land under the law.



Dung also said the revocation had been carried out improperly in several ways.


On February 7, Hai Phong City's Party authorities suspended Le Van Hien, chairman of Tien Lang District People's Committee, and his deputy Khanh.


Hai Phong police announced the following day they started investigating those involved in the revocation on charge of "damaging properties," but it was not until October 22 when Khanh was arrested.


Hien was transferred to the Department of Interiors of Hai Phong in early April.


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