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Vietnam court sentences 2 to death due to clash of land disputes



The 84-year-old father of two men, the village elder Le Dinh Kinh, was shot dead during the violence, it said.

The newspaper said four other defendants were also charged with murder. Of those, Congs son Le Dinh Doanh was sentenced to life in prison while three others were given prison sentences ranging from 12 to 16 years, Vietnam News reported.

The defendants were charged with killing three police officers using grenades, fire bombs and spears as authorities advanced on the village in Dong Tam municipality. Police were trying to stop villagers from blocking the construction of a wall around a military airport on the ground they said belonged to the village.

The newspaper quoted the judge as saying in the verdict that the attackers committed the murders in a brutal manner and used methods of mass murder.

The other 23 defendants were charged with resisting those in public office and received sentences ranging from 15 months to six years, the newspaper said.

Land disputes are common in Vietnam because the government does not recognize private land ownership. Land can be obtained for infrastructure and investment projects, and compensation disputes often lead to protracted disputes.

The harsh sentences against Dong Tam defendants, including the death sentence against two people, do not come as a surprise, said Phil Robertson, Asia deputy director for New York-based Human Rights Watch.

Vietnam rulers are bowing to show their toughest possible face against Dong Tam villagers because they worry the distrust of these communities could be contagious if the defendants are not hit with the harshest sentences, Robertson said.

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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