Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Hanoi, date set for Catholic lawyer and dissident, Le Quoc Quan’s appeal

The Catholic lawyer and dissident Le Quoc Quan, imprisoned in northern Vietnam after being sentenced to 30 months, will be judged on appeal on February 8 . 

The news was reported by his lawyer, following the recent decision by Hanoi's People's Supreme Court. 

Meanwhile, his family was allowed to meet the prisoner, and described him as being in a "satisfactory" condition. 

According to his brother Le Quoc Quyet , after the initial sentencing he was held him in a cell with 24 fellow prisoners, half of them in jail for drugs. He can only read two newspapers, the official organ of the Communist Party - Nhân Dân - and the newspaper which belongs to police, An Ninh. Other newspapers, magazines and books, including the Bible for which he asked (in vain) are forbidden.

Among the most important and well-known Catholic activists in Vietnam , repeatedly detained and released after short periods, Le Quoc Quan was detained again by Vietnamese government officials December 27, 2012 , with false and trumped-up charges of " tax evasion" an act strongly condemned by many pro - human rights associations around the world . 

The sentence of 30 months in prison and a hefty fine (56 thousand dollars) arrived on October 2, at the end of a lightning trial that lasted a mere two hours. 

International organizations, groups of Catholic activists and representatives of the main religions in Vietnam have come to the defense of the dissident, who had fasted and prayed for a long time ahead of the trial.

In the verdict issued by the courts, there are no explicit references to his activities as an activist who is critical of official power and the highest authorities of the state. In the indictment that there was a reference to the (alleged ) tax fraud committed by the company in which he worked as a senior executive. And it is precisely on this charge of tax fraud that the defense wants to focus the debate on appeal, confident it can prove Le Quoc Quan's innocence regarding the facts that are ascribed to him.
Moreover, it is widely believed among human rights activists and associations that the prison sentence of the Catholic lawyer is in fact due to his battle against the persecution of followers of religion and strident criticism - on his blog - of the Communist Party monopoly in Vietnam. During the trial in the courtroom he rejected the allegations against him as "a political vendetta " , he then added he would continue its fight against corruption in the country.

The Vietnamese government has been pursuing a campaign against dissidents , bloggers, religious leaders ( including Buddhists) , Catholic activists or entire communities as was the case last year in the diocese of Vinh, where media and government promoted a smear campaign and targeted attacks against the bishop and faithful. The repression also affects individuals guilty of claiming the right to religious freedom and respect for citizens' civil rights.

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