Vietnam supreme court voids verdicts in Hai Phong land revocation case

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Vietnam's Supreme Court has annulled verdicts handed down to a farmer and his family who violently resisted a land revocation that even the Prime Minster has called illegal.

At the Wednesday appeal, the Supreme Court said the Tien Lang District's People Court and the Hai Phong City District's People Court had failed to follow regulated procedures when handling the case of 54-year-old Doan Van Vuon.

In 2009 and 2010, Vuon filed lawsuits against a Tien Lang People's Committee decision to revoke 19.3 hectares of swampland it allotted him in 1997 under a 14-year term agreement.

The district court was wrong to reject Vuon's lawsuit without considering whether or not the local authorities Tien Lang District People's Committee in this case complied with the law when allotting the land to him, according to the Supreme Court.

It also failed to take into consideration compensation that Vuon might be owed for the reclamation, the court said.

The land reclamation in Tien Lang has been criticized by many lawyers as illegal under the Land Law, which provides farmers the right to use lands allotted to them for 20 years.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also called the seizure of Vuon's land illegal in a statement about the high profile case February 10.

Meanwhile, the city court, which opened an appeal trial in April 2010, violated procedures when suspending the case following Vuon's withdrawal of his lawsuit without clarifying if it was voluntary or not, the Supreme Court said.

The fact that the trial took place in the absence of Vuon was also problematic, according to the high court.

In fact, Vuon revoked the lawsuit after having been led to believe earlier that a compromise had been reached where he would no longer be asked to vacate the land.

Following suspension of the case at the city level, the Tien Lang People's Committee went on with its decision to revoke Vuon's land.

On January 5 this year, some 100 local police and soldiers stormed Vuon's house to force him to return the land. But Vuon and his family resisted with improvised shotguns and homemade mines, injuring six policemen and soldiers that day.

Tien Lang authorities are also suspected of having paid thugs to raze Vuon's house the day after the violent encounter.

This prompted the PM to step in and order related ministries and Hai Phong City authorities to figure out what really happened and punish people involved.

Leaders of Tien Lang District and Vinh Quang Commune have been suspended for a review of their culpability in the matter.

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