Ben Doherty | November 10, 2019
Retired baker Chau Van Kham, 70, to appear in Ho Chi Minh City court after more than 10 months in detention
Allegations of terrorism made against a 70-year-old Australian man in Vietnam are “absolutely false and groundless”, his wife says, pleading with the prime minister to publicly advocate for his release.
Retired baker Chau Van Kham is scheduled to appear in court in Ho Chi Minh City for the first time Monday morning, after more than 10 months in detention. He is contesting the charges, but the Guardian understands his case may be finalised at his first appearance. If convicted, he may even be sentenced on Monday.
Chau faces allegations of terrorism over his membership of Việt Tân , a political movement critical of the Vietnamese government, which has proscribed it as a terrorist organisation.
He has been held by the Vietnamese government since January this year. His health has deteriorated precipitously in detention, and he has been denied contact with his family.
From Sydney, his wife, Quynh Trang Truong, has written to the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, “filled with both faint hopes and great despair, to seek your valuable help … so my husband can be released and reunited with his family in Australia”.
“He is a hard-working citizen, and he deserves the Australian government’s support in this painful circumstance.”
Qunyh wrote her husband is innocent of the charges of terrorism.
“I believe you have already known very clearly this is an absolutely false and groundless allegation against my elderly husband.”
Qunyh has also written to the foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, arguing her husband’s health was deteriorating badly in prison and that she feared “a tragic way that ends my husband’s life in prison”. Chau has been hospitalised twice during his 10 months in detention.
Chau, an Australian citizen, was born in Vietnam and served in the army of the Republic of Vietnam before 1975. After the war, he was sent to a re-education camp for three years, before he fled Vietnam by boat, arriving in Australia in 1983.