Vietnam court upholds sentences against subversives

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An appeals court in Ho Chi Minh City on May 11 upheld sentences against two of three men who were given five-16 years imprisonment for attempting to overthrow the government in January.

According to the Supreme Court, Tran Huynh Duy Thuc, former general director of the HCMC's One Connection Internet Joint Stock Company (OCI), received jail term of 16 years as handed down by the first trial, because he did not plead guilty during the trial.

Thuc will also be placed under five years of surveillance after serving his jail term.

Under surveillance, convicts are not allowed to travel out of certain areas or hold certain jobs. They also have to report regularly to authorities.

The court also refused to decrease the five-year imprisonment sentence given to Le Cong Dinh, saying the former lawyer's sentence was already less than the charge mandated because he had showed sincerity and repentance.

According to Vietnam's Penal Code, attempting to overthrow the government carries a sentence of between 12 years and death.

However, Le Thang Long, former director of Innotech Company, had his jail term decreased from five years to three and half years thanks to his sincerity in pleading guilty, and his genuine repentance, according to the court.

In January, they and Nguyen Tien Trung were found guilty of "activities aimed at subverting the people's administration."

While Trung, who was arrested in July 2009, began serving his seven-year sentence immediately, the other three submitted appeals.

According to the indictment, Thuc, who was arrested in May 2009, ran a website and three blogs that disseminated distorted information about the Vietnamese government and the ruling Communist Party.

Four OCI staffers had joined Thuc's group, including Long, who later split from the group to create his own subversive website, prosecutors said.

Thuc and Dinh joined the US-based Dang Dan Chu Vietnam (Vietnam Democratic Party) in 2008. Since then Thuc and Dinh, who were arrested in June 2009, together with Nguyen Sy Binh, leader of the subversive party, had disseminated distorted information about Vietnam's government via the blogosphere.

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