District officials may have paid for razing farmer's houses

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More dirt has come out on the controversial land revocation attempt in northern Vietnam, with three men saying Tuesday local authorities had paid them to raze the rebellious farmer's houses.

For more than a month, authorities in Tien Lang District in Hai Phong city have been saying that some "angry" neighbors had destroyed the two houses of Doan Van Vuon and his extended family because of their protest against the dispossession of their land.

Vu Van Ket, 42, Do Van Doan, 44, and Dang Van Tai, 25, told reporters they had been hired by the district authorities to use excavators to bring down the two houses on Vuon's land on January 6.

Doan owns the excavator and Tai, his nephew, operated it on that day.

They were paid VND1.5 million (US$72).

Ket said he was summoned on January 5 by Pham Dinh Hoan, head of the Party unit of Vinh Quang commune in the district. He met him and Nguyen Van Khanh, the district vice chairman, and Le Thanh Liem, the commune chairman.

"Khanh, Hoan, and Liem asked me to get an excavator for them to clear the land "¦ I called Do Van Doan, who owns an excavator.

"We agreed to work for VND500,000 an hour, and I asked my nephew Tai to meet Khanh, Hoan, Liem and he just followed their orders."

Tai said: "I worked under the direct orders of Hoan and Liem."

On Tuesday the Hai Phong city administration organized a meeting where the police were ordered to investigate the destruction and file charges against anyone involved.

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Khanh and his superior Le Van Hien, the district chairman, have been suspended for ordering the revocation of Vuon's land.

The revocation has been on the front pages of newspapers for the last month after it ended up in a violent protest by the farmers. 

Many lawyers have said the authorities violated the 1993 Land Law.

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