Ha Tinh Province police announced, Wednesday, that they would seek charges against another 10 people believed to have been involved in a mob attack that left nine police officers injured in April.
The attack was motivated by seething communal opposition to a planned government project.
Five additional suspects were taken into custody, while the rest were placed under house arrest until the conclusion of their investigation, a spokesperson for the Thach Ha District Police said, adding that the suspects are being investigated on charges of “damaging personal property.”
Police have already arrested 11 people for “illegal detention,” “disturbing public security,” and “damaging personal property.”
The authorities say that on April 10, six police officers visited Truong Van Truong’s house to take him into custody for "disturbing public security.”
The 30-year-old man was suspected of having thrown rocks at several local officials’ homes in recent months to protest the planned Vinh Hang cemetery project in Bac Son Commune.
One of the 12 motorbikes that were burned by a mob during a public protest against a cemetery project in the central province of Ha Tinh in April this year. Photo: Nguyen Dung
Locals rushed to the scene to protest Truong's arrest. In the chaos that ensued, the protesters abducted and beat four police officers.
More than 100 officers were mobilized to the site to rescue the kidnapped officers, but continued to face attacks from the mob. Five other officers were injured by rocks thrown during the rescue effort.
Later that day, locals amassed around the headquarters of the Bac Son People’s Committee and burned 11 motorbikes that local officials had parked there.
The group then surrounded the homes of several local officials and hurled stones at the buildings. They were also accused of vandalizing the home of Nguyen Khac Son, chief of the commune’s police, and burning his motorbike.
Many Bac Son residents told the press that they had filed numerous petitions with local authorities in the months preceding the riots, asking them to suspend the cemetery project.
They said their pleas were all ignored.
They feared that the project would consume the limited communal farmland, leaving many households without a place to farm or live. They also said that once Vinh Hang goes into operation, it will block a road that links the commune and National Road 15A.
Local authorities planned to use 28.8 hectares (71.2 acres) of communal land, including eight hectares of agricultural land, for the cemetery which would be used to bury deceased residents of Ha Tinh Town and other adjacent localities.
In Vietnam, all land is owned by the state, but because land-usage rights are not always clear or protected, land disputes have become increasingly contentious in the country.
At least 70 percent of all complaints lodged with authorities nationwide concern land.
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