Dong Tam case: Trial expected in August but lawyers have yet to get access to case’s record

Sinh thời, ông Lê Đình Kình được một số người xem như anh hùng khi dám đứng lên chống lại các quan chức tham nhũng, nhưng nhà nước lại coi ông là một tội phạm,
Mr. Le Dinh Kinh was killed and ‘three soldiers from the People’s Police died’ in the attack on Dong Tam on January 9. Now 29 locals are being charged with ‘Murder’ and ‘Anti-official service execution’ charges.

Mr. Le Dinh Kinh was killed and “three police officers died” during the brutal attack in Dong Tam on January 9. Now 29 local land petitioners are being prosecuted of “Murder” and “Resisting on-duty state officials.”

The Dong Tam case is scheduled for a trial by the Hanoi People’s Court in August 2020, according to state media, while lawyers participate in protecting the rights of those arrested land petitioners told the BBC that they have not been able to get access to the case files so far.

On July 6, a newsletter on the Voice of Vietnam website (VOV) titled “Trial of murder in Dong Tam in August” said:

A total of 29 defendants will be tried on the charges of ‘murder’ and ‘resisting on-duty state officials’ in Dong Tam commune, My Duc district, Hanoi.

According to the information from the Hanoi People’s Court, it is expected that in August, the Dong Tam case in which three police officers đie will be put to trial.”

The website of Vietnam Television (VTV) in the article titled “The hearing of the murder case in Dong Tam in August” said:

Earlier, the Investigation Police Agency of the Hanoi City Police Department issued a conclusion of the investigation, proposing to prosecute the accused in the case in Hoanh village (Dong Tam commune, My Duc, Hanoi) on January 9, 2020.

At the conclusion, the investigating side proposed the Procuracy of the same level to prosecute 25 individuals of ‘murder’ including Le Dinh Cong, Bui Viet Hieu, Nguyen Van Tuyen, Le Dinh Chuc, Le Dinh Doanh, and Nguyen Quoc. Tien, Nguyen Van Quan, Le Dinh Uy, Le Dinh Quang, Bui Thi Noi, Bui Thi Dan, Nguyen Thi Bet, Nguyen Thi Lua, Tran Thi La, Bui Van Tien, Nguyen Van Due, Le Dinh Quan, Bui Van Nien, Bui Van Tuan, Trinh Van Hai, Nguyen Xuan Dieu, Mai Thi Phan, Dao Thi Kim, Le Thi Loan, and Nguyen Van Trung.

In the same case, Le Dinh Hien, Bui Viet Tien, Nguyen Thi Dung, and Tran Thi Phuong were proposed to be prosecuted on the allegation of ‘resisting on-duty state officials.’ All 29 defendants in the case were from Hoanh village, Dong Tam commune.”

Hình ảnh này chưa có thuộc tính alt; tên tệp của nó là 3-8.jpg
Ministry of Public Security launched “learning and following” the example of three soldiers falling into a pit of death

On the same day, the New Hanoi newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Hanoi City Party Committee, also posted an article with similar content.

This newspaper quoted Chief Justice of the People’s Court of Hanoi Nguyen Huu Chinh reporting the working results of the first six months of the year and the tasks for the last six months of 2020 of the sector at the meeting of the City People’s Council on July 6, according to which, it is expected that the cases of “Murder” and “resisting on-duty state officials ” occurred in Dong Tam commune (My Duc district) on Jan 9 causing three police officers will be put on trial in August 2020.

Earlier, on June 25, the Hanoi People’s Procuracy sent Indictment No. 241 / CT-VKS-P2 prosecuting 29 defendants in the above case to the Hanoi City People’s Court to adjudicate according to its authority. Of these, 25 defendants are proposed to prosecute the crime of “murder,” four defendants are proposed to prosecute the charges of “resisting on-duty state officials,” the New Hanoi newspaper on July 6, 2020 added.

What do the lawyers say?

On July 6, BBC News Vietnamese contacted a number of lawyers who were involved in defending the defendants in the Dong Tam case.

Lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan from the law firm of the same name in Hanoi, said:

The trial plan was set by the Hanoi City Court. They arrange according to their calendar, but if they make a sudden arrangement and the lawyers have not been able to access the records or access the records in a very short time, it is extremely difficult for lawyers to participate in defending and protecting the interests of our clients.”

The fact is that in terms of time, now there are no records, so what do the lawyers study? Complex cases have many details, need to be compared, collated, without documents, lawyers can not do it.

If such a minimum condition is not met, how can it be said that it can create favorable conditions? The most basic condition is access to case files that cannot be achieved, let alone other requirements such as the reconstruction of the scene, etc.

Now without a record, the lawyers can’t speak correctly. Preparation will be very limited. Without a record, it’s like a doctor who goes to work without a previous medical record, doesn’t have the tools to find-how to cure it? ”

I don’t think the Politburo advocates Dong Tam case

Lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan continued to discuss whether the government has explained anything about the lawyer not having access to the case files:

The state and government proceedings have not provided any satisfactory explanation so far. It is possible that in the last week before the case is brought to trial, lawyers can read the file.

The lawyers for the case have been talking to each other constantly, there are complaints, but so far our requests have not been met.

According to the rules of the law, the executive branch and the judiciaries are different, which means these agencies are independent of each other. By-law on paper and in the organizational structure, the executive can do this, but the judiciary has complete independence. But the problem is that Vietnam has no independence in these branches, so whoever goes to handle it will be the same.

So if you are lucky enough to take them to a higher level, it is hoped that there will be a fairer good. But that is also unlikely because, in the end, that incident will not escape through Ha Noi.

Because the Ministry of Public Security investigated it and eventually transferred it to the Hanoi Procuracy to do it. Or the Supreme Procuracy would do it later, then later transfer it to the Hanoi Court for trying … the Supreme Court could not hold the first-instance hearing.

And once the judiciary is not independent, the questions posed in the first place already have an answer, that is, it runs around, doesn’t solve anything.”

Meeting with the accused?

Regarding the health and spiritual situation of clients, Lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan said:

At the end of the investigation, we were not allowed to meet clients, none of the lawyers met anyone else.

Dong Tam case: They treat like in the Middle Ages

During the process of investigating and interrogating, no one said that they were forced to provide bows or corporal punishment, but in the previous period, they did not complain since they have not been permitted to meet with their lawyers in privacy.

When the detainees were not allowed to meet their lawyers alone, that is, when they do not have an independent meeting with attorneys, if there are such matters, then people will not dare to speak, so we hope after the end we will meet them, then we will better know the clients’ internal affairs and wishes. But during the investigation phase, lawyers only listen, just meet them and listen to information, sit there and listen, supervise interrogation to be transparent and fair, but lawyers have no right to ask.

Even at the end of the investigation, they (the investigating authority) may deny our right to ask. Lawyers are there jusst for listening, acting as supervisors, rather than co-operating, participating in that interrogation, so the interaction between the client and the lawyer is extremely limited, and the information as mentioned above is almost left unanswered, not asked, not mentioned.”

Meeting clients is not comprehensive because a lawyer can represent several different clients at once, if the interrogations are arranged in duplicate, then we can attend one meeting and ignore others.

‘Difficult from the start’

Also on July 6, another lawyer from the same group of Dong Tam lawyers did not want to reveal his identity, giving BBC News Vietnamese some more details:

In fact, basically, in all phases, lawyers find difficulties in getting access to the case’s records although we have submitted our requests and complaints to prosecutors responsible for the case. They don’t want us to make a copy of the case file.”

No the indictment was sent to the court but we have not been granted access to the case records. This is abnormal signs aiming to create difficulties for lawyers in the preparation of defense for our clients.”

The procuracy told us that they were busy, and later they said the case file has been transferred to the court so they sent us only indictment.”

It can be said that it is a violation made by the prosecutor in the case. Our lawyers may need to complain to the authorities in order to get important case files to better protect our clients.”

Regarding the time limit for the case to be brought to trial by the Hanoi People’s Court in August, answering the question if this deadline becomes a reality, what are the opinions of the lawyers, the lawyer in the group curing defendants and defendants in this Dong Tam case:

In my opinion, if the trial happens in August as expected, our lawyers need to have access to the case files in early July to have enough time for preparation defense.

But if they want to hold the trial earlier or dont allow us to get access to the case file, we will find difficulties for defending out clients.”


The lawyer further explained:

Because it is a very big and complicated case with political and judicial matters, lawyers need enough time for preparation defense for our client. We cannot do it in a very short time.”

In a related incident, on July 6, a group of dignitaries, intellectuals, and activists in Vietnam announced a joint statement entitled “Declaration on the Trial of Dong Tam Case: Violating criminal procedure law! ”

A number of activists visited Le Dinh Kinh’s family

The declaration was organized by four organizations and groups, including the Civil Society Forum, Civil Rights, the Advocacy for Writers’ Committee, Le Hieu Dang Club and at least 18 dignitaries, intellectuals, and activists including writer Nguyen Ngoc, Dr. Nguyen Quang A, poet Hoang Hung, Vo Van Thon, former Director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Justice, Dr. Vu Trong Khai, economist Dao Cong Tien co-signed. The declaration said:

We, individuals and civil society organizations declare: To request Mr. Nguyen Phu Trong- President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam cum Head of the Justice Reform Department, Nguyen Hoa Binh- Chief Justice of the Supreme People’s Court, and Le Minh Tri- Director of the Supreme People’s Procuracy to order the relevant authorities to quickly transfer the case files to the lawyers involved in defending the Dong Tam case, permit the lawyers to contact the accused. Do not allow the Hanoi People’s Court to bring the case to trial when lawyers have not had enough time to study the files and not enough time to contact the accused.

Request for the trial to take place in democratic, public litigation in the spirit of judicial reform, so that the trial can comply with the provisions of law.”

Vietnamese Source: