The first trial related last month's deadly riot at a Taiwanese construction site in Ha Tinh will open tomorrow against two men charged with looting.
Tran Quoc Viet, head judge of the provincial People’s Court, told Dan Tri newspaper that the duo allegedly stole property at the site of a steel mill being built by Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group during a riot that left two Chinese workers dead and 149 others, both Chinese and Vietnamese, injured on May 14.
The violence was the worst to arise out of peaceful demonstrations against China's illegal deployment of an oil rig into Vietnam’s territorial waters in early May.
The riot began on the afternoon of May 14 when two groups of Chinese and Vietnamese workers got into a scuffle near the future site of the mill's blast furnace.
A group of 5,000 Vietnamese and 1,000 Chinese workers flew into a brawl, after a false rumor spread through the crowd that a Vietnamese worker had been beaten to death.
During the fight, three temporary dormitories were set on fire.
Iron, steel, electric wires, air conditioners, and computers were looted in the chaos that ensued.
Ha Tinh police have arrested 99 people so far; 36 face charges of “causing public disorder” and “theft.” The remaining suspects are still under investigation.
Authorities have returned 242 stolen items, including 19 computers, five laptops, and 13 photocopiers after seizing them from the looters.
Eighty-nine contractors, including 12 Chinese and 12 Taiwanese, have resumed work on the project in the Vung Ang Economic Zone, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported on June 7.
Far to the south, six people in Binh Duong Province were sentenced to between four months and three years for rioting, vandalism, and looting during peaceful protests that turned ugly on May 13-14.
The Vietnamese government has pledged to assist companies affected by the riots with tax breaks, rent waivers and lines of credit.
On May 2, China illegally dispatched a US$1-billion drilling rig, escorted by a large fleet of armed vessels, military ships and aircraft, into Vietnam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone.
Chinese ships have repeatedly rammed and fired water cannons at Vietnamese coast guard and fisheries surveillance ships tasked with protecting the country's maritime borders as well as Vietnamese fishing boats operating in the Vietnamese waters.