April 6, 2011
HANOI, Vietnam — The defence team of a prominent Vietnamese dissident lawyer sentenced this week to prison has filed a complaint alleging the judge in his trial broke the law by obstructing their rights to hear all the evidence.
Cu Huy Ha Vu, 53, the well-known son of a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader, was sentenced to seven years in prison and three years under house arrest at the one-day trial Monday on charges of conducting propaganda against the state.
One of Vu’s four defence attorneys was ejected from the courtroom for repeatedly asking the judge to read in full or provide copies of 10 interviews Vu gave to foreign media, which were used as key evidence against him.
The three other attorneys walked out in protest, leaving Vu to defend himself.
In the complaint, posted at a popular dissident website and verified Tuesday by lawyer Tran Dinh Trien, the defence team accused the judge of violating their rights as attorneys and the rights of their client by refusing to provide the full evidence.
"There has been a serious violation of laws during the investigation, prosecution and at the court," said Trien, one of the three lawyers who left the court in protest. "According to the law, the evidence must be announced at the trial, but they did not. The trial, which was conducted in a hasty and imposing manner, cannot be in accordance with the law."
Vu was convicted of calling for an end to the one-party rule, defaming the state, demanding the abolishment of the Communist Party’s leadership and calling the war against the United States a civil war.
He is the son of Cu Huy Can, a famous Vietnamese poet and revolutionary leader in the government formed by late President Ho Chi Minh when he declared independence from France in 1945.
Vu, who has a law doctorate from a French university but is not licensed to practice in Vietnam, has tried twice to sue Vietnam’s prime minister, once over a controversial Chinese-built bauxite mining project and another time after the premier blocked class-action lawsuits from being filed. Both cases were thrown out of court.
Vu’s prosecution was closely watched and under tight security. The U.S. government and New York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the conviction and called for Vu’s release.
Vietnam does not tolerate any threat to its one-party rule. Hanoi insists it has no political prisoners and maintains only lawbreakers are punished.