Dong Tam case: The Court wants to bring lawyers into “complicated battle”

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The Dan Tri newspaper quoted the police saying, “It is the law to shoot Le Dinh Kinh to kill guns.”

Defendants have not been allowed to see their lawyers during the investigation on national security grounds, and the lawyers are not permitted to read the file, nor meet with their clients because of the blockade of detention centers and the prosecution agencies. These ugly behaviors are still maintained in Vietnam.

After bringing people to his bed and setting up a trigger to kill Le Dinh Kinh without trial, now the Vietnamese authorities want to legalize this by preventing the lawyers from accessing the case records. In the case, perhaps Minister To Lam’s scenario is still not tight enough, making the prosecution agencies less confident, they are afraid that the lawyers will publicize the truth.

Lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan once likened the doctor’s job to treating patients without being exposed to medical records, without tools to examine them in order to decide how to cure them.

Just yesterday, Lawyer Tuan used the word “complicated battle” to compare with the path that the prosecution agency wanted to cleverly draw in front of the lawyers of the Dong Tam massacre.

The Vietnamese communist regime always said it upholds the supreme principle of the law and the principle of judicial independence although it does not recognize the separation of three branches legislative, executive, and judicial. Now, whether the magic wand “for national security reasons” will expand and how the lawyers have to struggle to read the Dong Tam case file with 25 defendants being charged with murder and four with “resisting on-duty state officers.” However, the public is again prosecuting those who sent 3,000 soldiers to kill local community leader Le Dinh Kinh in the middle of the night in Hoanh village, Dong Tam village.

The two articles of two lawyers Ngo Anh Tuan and Ngo Ngoc Trai, though gentle with lawyer’s style, contain hidden appeals to the public to protect justice for more than thirty people who have been kept incommunicado since their detentions and do not understand their rights to defending themselves. would like to quote these two articles for readers to reference and comment.

Complicated battle in demanding to meet with customers

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Article by Lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan

by lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan

This morning, lawyer Le Van Hoa and I, lawyer Ngo Anh Tuan, went to Detention Center No. 2 under the authority of the Hanoi City Police Department to visit suspects in the “Murder” and “resisting on-duty state officials” case happened in Dong Tam commune, My Duc district, Hanoi on January 9, 2020. As in many cases before, this time our requests to visit our clients were denied on the grounds that “The court informed all lawyers who want to meet with their clients need  a Court-issued Defense Notice.” I immediately advised that this request of the Court goes against the law because our legal procedure from the investigation phase up to now is still valid and it will be valid throughout the proceedings. After failing to argue with us, the beautiful officer, Huong, told us that this is her boss’s direction. Dissatisfied with the explanation above, I continued to ask if there was any written order, she said only oral order. I asked, is the court directing the detention’s authorities by oral orders also? She said that she is not sure and lawyers can ask her boss!

I knew in advance that there would be no way to meet with our clients, so I took the initiative to ask whether the court would invite the lawyers to receive a new Notice of Defense and whether this paper will allow us to meet the accused in accordance with the law? After a short call with someone, the official said firmly “sure“!

This afternoon, lawyers have begun copying the entire case file (except for two unopened image clips, which will be copied next week). After many requests for copying the case files, to date, the Hanoi People’s Court has responded to the legitimate requests of lawyers – though delayed, this is a more responsible move than previous legal proceedings agencies. However, when lawyer Le Van Hoa mentioned that there was information that the court would re-issue the legal procedures to lawyers, the secretaries said they were unclear, while other appointed lawyers said they heard such information and this is an important case so the move is necessary! The secretaries also said that if lawyers request, they should send the application to the judge to resolve. So, although our lawyers today are about to take a file to get more materials to study, all the ways to the cell to contact clients are blocked in many different ways, from the investigation period up to now and probably until the trial takes place, we can not meet, ask and exchange with our customers, even once. We would like to know clearly whether their testimony during the investigation phase was coerced, mocked or not (although the record of the testimony is available), what opinions they have about the conclusions of the investigation, the report status or not … to guide the defense at the upcoming trial.

Law practitioners, even though they are new, are sufficiently literate to know that many of the actions taken by the proceeding agencies in this case are very clearly wrong but choose to remain silent. The assigned lawyers are useless, never dare to speak the opposite; few lawyers invited by the families of the defendants weakly responded so far, we have only been running around the truth – the fact that the case is still a big unanswered question mark, even if the case is resolved by two first-instance and appeal hearings.

It is difficult, but we will try our best to be able to help a little bit of something meaningful to the clients who are being held in detention. The wrongdoing of someone in the short term will have to be paid for, but the wrongness in the totality of a major event throughout a long process will last for many, many more years, our descendants will unveil it and judge it. Like it or not, lawyers also kept their footprints in a historic period of barefoot people here, it’s just a shame that we were not helpful for them …

About a legal sunken area

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Ngo Ngoc Trai Lawyer is currently the Director of Public Works Law Firm of Hanoi Bar Association

By lawyer Ngo Ngoc Trai

Yesterday I and my colleagues lawyers made copies of Dong Tam case files after getting permission from the Court. At this point, the lawyers will print out to research and make defenses for the defendants at the trial.

We remind you that our lawyers always follow the law to protect the accused and consider it a way to preserve the community’s interests. And it is impossible to enforce justice by breaking the law.

Through cases of public interest, we strive to promote the establishment of a legal working attitude at state agencies, and promote the rule of law in a legal low-lying area. .

At present, lawyers are still prevented from making direct contacts with their clients and this is a violation of the law: violating the rights of the accused and the lawyer.

In a case of public concern and a clear violation of the law, it shows that state agencies no longer care about people’s thoughts.

There is the truth that the rule of law and state agencies’ respection of law will not come easy but with efforts of all people.

In fact, for a long time, there are some types of sensitive cases that seem to allow the judiciary to allow themselves to violate the law, to allow themselves to leave the law behind.

I remembered the story in the movie “The Negotiator” in which a lawyer pleaded for an accused working as a Soviet agent and arrested in the US. US security officers found the lawyer and asked him to provide information that the accused told the lawyer.

The security officer said “I know that your lawyers have the principle of keeping clients confidential and such, but this is a national security issue so there is no rule here.”

The lawyer asked the agent “Are you originally from Germany, right? And I’m of Iceland descent. So what makes the two of us Americans? Because we have a set of laws called the Constitution, and we have laws called Human Rights. So don’t tell me there’s no rule here.”

This shows that the psychology of wanting to go beyond the legal framework has been a cognitive inertia of law enforcement people. And a safe legal life, fair treatment, rule of law, is an effort to promote the construction of all circles and people, including defense lawyers and filmmakers.

In Vietnam today, there are not many people who want to participate in defense of sensitive cases. Only a few lawyers who love justice and are tormented by a flawed rule of law will accept it. Those few need understanding and advocacy of the community.

In the future, the next generations, when they have benefited from a legal framework to ensure personal safety, when the community is entitled to a rule of law society, it is partly motivated by those courageous defense lawyers in criminal cases. (Translated)

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