Dong Tam case: Two killed in police killings in Vietnam

A Vietnam court sentenced two brothers to death for their role in the killing of three policemen in a notorious land dispute in January.

The other 27 people on trial were sentenced to life imprisonment ranging from 15 months.

Le Dinh Kang and his younger brother Le Dinh Chuch helped in the resistance against the police, the court ruled.

His father, 84-year-old retired local officer Le Dinh Kinh, was shot dead by police who barged into Dong Tam village.

Near the authorities were trying to secure the construction of a fence, land officials were trying to seize next to an airfield.

The raids and unexplained circumstances surrounding the popular local leader’s death caused massive public controversy. Land disputes are common in Vietnam, but rarely escalate into such conflicts.

Tina Than-Ha Woo of the BBC’s Vietnamese Service said the two death sentences and lengthy prison terms have been deemed by many to be a warning by the government against the confiscation of private land.

One defendant, Le Dinh Donah, received life imprisonment, many received 12 to 15 years in prison and others received a reduced prison sentence.

The defense counsel protested that the time allotted to him in the court to make his case was shortened considerably.

What happened in dong tam?

Police arrived in the village in January to help secure the lands seized by the Ministry of Defense in the vicinity of Myoh Mon Airport near Dong Tam as the army built a fence.

The land was already under dispute with the villagers, who said they had not been properly diverted for its confiscation.

According to officials, a group of residents led by Le Dinh Kinh violently opposed the police, and three officers – Colonel Nguyen Hua Thinh, Kept Pham Kang Hui and Lieutenant Duong Dook Hoang Quan were set on fire and burnt to death Given.

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Le Dinh Kinh, a former government official, became an outspoken opponent of land grab

Mr Kinh was later shot dead by police, who said he confronted them while holding a grenade. His son, Le Dinh Chuch, was injured in the raid. Deputy Minister Luong Tam Kwong said that the police had seized petrol bombs, iron rods and other weapons.

Mr. Kinh’s family and supporters disputed the official account. In later days, Mr. Kinh’s three families appeared on TV with severed faces, apparently admitting to possessing homemade weapons and petrol bombs. Rights groups said the confession was forced, and Mr. Kinh’s wife, Du Thi Thane, said she was beaten by police.

How did the dispute start?

The dispute began about three years ago when the Vietnamese army began work at an airport in Myoh Mon.

Residents complained that about 50 hectares (124 acres) of their land had been wrongly handed over to Vietnam’s military-run communications company Viettel Group.

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Protests erupted in Dong Tam for the first time in 2017

All of the land in communist Vietnam is state-owned, so the government can technically use what it wants for military or civil purposes. But the locals protested that they were not properly compensated for the seized land, and opposed the effort to take it.

The controversy first came to widespread public attention in 2017, when four people were arrested for “disturbances in public order” in protest against land acquisition.

Within a week, the villagers retaliated by capturing 38 officers, including police officers, inside the community building. He was eventually released after authorities agreed some concessions.