|The defendants in court. — VNA/VNS Photo Tiên Minh|
KHÁNH HÒA — Seven former officials on Monday went on trial for "violation of regulations on land management" at the Khánh Hòa People’s Court.
The trial was based on Clause 3, Article 229 of the 2015 Penal Code.
The criminal case centres on activities at the Cửu Long Sơn Tự Spiritual Ecology Project and the Vĩnh Trung River Mountain Villa Project in Nha Trang City, Khánh Hòa Province.
The defendants are Nguyễn Chiến Thắng and Lê Đức Vinh, both former chairmen of the provincial People’s Committee; Đào Công Thiên, former deputy chairman of the provincial People’s Committee; Lê Mộng Điệp and Võ Tấn Thái, former director of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment; Lê Văn Dẽ, former director of the provincial Department of Construction; and Trần Văn Hùng, former director of the Land Management Sub-department under the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.
Võ Tấn Thái applied to be absent as he is undergoing medical treatment.
Sixteen lawyers participated in the defence.
The court summoned two witnesses and four related people to attend the trial.
The indictment said that in 2012-15, during the approval process for the Cửu Long Sơn Tự Spiritual Ecology Project and the Vĩnh Trung River Mountain Villa Project, the defendants, who were city leaders, illegally allocated land, changed land use purposes and issued land use right certificates.
The Cửu Long Sơn Tự Spiritual Ecology Project covers a total area of more than 513ha in Vĩnh Trung, Vĩnh Thái and Phước Đồng communes of Nha Trang City, Diên An, Diên Toàn and Suối Hiệp communes of Diên Khánh District and Suối Cát Commune of Cam Lâm District.
The project investor is the Khánh Hòa Company, which received an investment certificate from the Khánh Hòa Province People’s Committee.
The Vĩnh Trung River Mountain Villa Project covers more than 19ha in Vĩnh Trung Commune, Nha Trang City. The Khánh Hòa Company also invested in the project.
At first, the project aimed at afforestation, developing environmental landscape and eco-tourism. Later, the investor adjusted the project purpose to invest in infrastructure for a new villa area combined with eco-tourism.
The trial is scheduled to last four to five days. — VNS