Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Vietnamese dissidents remain defiant after receiving reduced jail term

Two pro-democracy activists received a reduction in their jail terms, although the convictions against them of spreading propaganda, which falls under article 88 of the criminal code, were upheld in an appeals court, Agence France-Presse reported today.

In an unusually charged appeal hearing, human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, 38, had his sentence cut from five years to four, while his colleague Le Thi Cong Nhan’s sentence was decreased from four years to three. The activists, however, continued to reject the charges against them as they left the court room.

“I reject both trials because they never would have brought a fair and objective sentence for me,” said Dai, flanked by two police officers. “The reason for my struggle is the lack of democracy and human rights in Vietnam.”

Nhan also challenged the court saying, “Even if I had been freed today, it would have been like being moved from a small to a big prison.”

“I would continue to express my opinion,” she added.

Defense lawyer Dang Trong Dung said that citizens have the right to freedom of expression, and that “it is necessary to reconsider article 88. It is necessary to redefine the notion of propaganda.”

The activists were arrested in March and sentenced in May for their Internet writings, interviews with foreign media, and meetings held with students to discuss democracy.

For the full article, click here.

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