Le Trong Tu, 22, and Lo Minh Trong, 25, both workers of a steel mill project owned by Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Group in Ha Tinh Province, stand trial June 10 for looting during a riot. Photo: Ky Cam
A court in the north-central province of Ha Tinh handed jail terms to two workers for looting the construction site of a Taiwanese steel mill during a deadly riot last month.
Le Trong Tu, 22, and Lo Minh Trong, 25, both residents of neighboring Nghe An Province, received 30 and 24 months, respectively, for “robbery."
The duo were convicted of stealing a variety of items during a brawl that left two Chinese workers dead and 149 others, both Vietnamese and Chinese, injured, on May 14.
Violence erupted while construction workers at the site of a future steel mill owned by Taiwanese Formosa Plastics Group in Vung Ang Economic Zone were peacefully protesting China’s illegal positioning of an oil rig in Vietnamese waters.
About 5,000 Vietnamese and 1,000 Chinese workers joined the brawl, after a rumor reportedly spread through the crowd that a Vietnamese worker had been beaten to death.
During the fight, three temporary dormitories were set on fire and looting took place.
Prosecutors said Tu and Trong, were both employed on the steel mill site, found a container belonging to the Hung Nghiep Thai Hoa Joint Stock Company had been unlocked at around 7 p.m. on May 14.
They stole an iron cutter, a welding machine and a generator from the container.
On May 20, police arrested them with the items, which were estimated to be worth more than VND10 million (US$471).
Police confiscated the property and then returned them to the Hung Nghiep Thai Hoa Company.
Ha Tinh police have so far arrested 99 people, of whom 36 are being investigated on charges of “causing public disorder” and “robbery.”
As tensions flared over China's deployment of the $1-billion oil rig in Vietnamese waters early last month, Vietnamese have since held rallies across the country and the world.
Some of them turned violent on May 13 and 14 when rioters looted, burned and vandalized the factories and offices of hundreds of foreign companies mostly in Ho Chi Minh City and provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Ha Tinh.
The two days of rioting prompted Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to order officials at every level of the government to tighten security for foreign investors, prevent further riots, and punish violators.
Over 1,000 people have been arrested for rioting in central and southern Vietnam.
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