Vietnam fish farmer sentenced to five years in prison

Vietnam fish farmer sentenced to five years in prison

Vietnam fish farmer sentenced to five years in prison

Updated 5 April 2013, 23:21 AEST

A Vietnamese fish farmer turned local hero for resisting a forced eviction is sentenced to five years in prison.

A Vietnamese farmer who became a local hero after resisting forced eviction has been sentenced to five years in prison for attempted murder.

Doan Van Vuon and his family rose to prominence after arming themselves with homemade shotguns to hold off local officials trying to remove them from their fish farm in Tien Lang district.

"The defendants disrespected the law and endangered people's lives," Pham Duc Tuyen, the court president, said.

Three of Mr Vuon's male relatives were sentenced to between two and five years in prison on the same charge of attempted murder.

Mr Tuyen said government prosecutors had taken into account public opinion towards the case, which involved the "sensitive and complicated matter of the land law".

He said the Vuon eviction was "not in accordance with the law" and the light sentences demonstrated "the state's lenient and humanitarian policy, contributing to stabilising the political situation in the area".

Mr Vuon's wife and sister-in-law received suspended sentences of 15 and 18 months on the lesser charge of resisting public officials on duty.

His lawyer told reporters after the trial that he was "very unhappy" and had hoped for lighter sentences.

The family's act of defiance triggered a nationwide outpouring of support, including a promise from Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung to prosecute corrupt local officials for the "illegal" eviction.

Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch deputy director for Asia, says the growing number of incidents are an important warning sign to Vietnamese authorities "if they continue to perpetrate these abuses and punish no-one but the victims of land loss".

“The issue of widespread arbitrary land seizures by corrupt officials or without due process and just compensation is what really made this trial resonate in the minds of ordinary Vietnamese people," he said.

Land is a divisive issue in communist Vietnam as it is wholly owned by the state and rights of use are not always clear or protected.

More than 70 per cent of all complaints lodged with authorities nationwide concern land.

ABC/AFP