|Defendant Trần Văn Bang leaves the HCM City People's Court on Friday morning. — VNA/VNS Photo Thành Chung|
HCM CITY — HCM City People's Court has sentenced a 62-year-old Facebooker to eight years in prison for making, storing, and distributing anti-State propaganda, after a first-instance trial on Friday.
The court also ordered Trần Văn Bang to complete three years of probation after he is released.
According to the case file, from 2016 to May 2021, Bang (originally from the northern province of Hải Dương) used three Facebook accounts named "Trần Bang," "Bang Trần," and "Tran Josh" to publish 39 articles that he wrote, with contents that promoted, distorted and slandered the people's administration; spread misinformation, causing confusion among the people; distorted and incited boycotts of the Vietnamese National Assembly elections; and called for a multi-party system.
Bang also stored numerous documents and newspapers, including four books with anti-State propaganda that undermined national unity, incited war, evoked hatred among ethnic groups in other countries, incited violence; distorted historical facts, rejected revolutionary achievements; fabricated, insulted ethnic groups; insulted the reputation of agencies, organisations and individuals, insulted national heroes and leaders, insulted the reputation of the Communist Party of Việt Nam and the People's Court and the People's Police.
At the court, Trần Văn Bang admitted to committing these acts, but not with the intention of undermining the State but only as an exercise of his freedom of speech.
The judges determined that his actions constitute criminal liability as stipulated in Article 117 of the Penal Code (making, storing, disseminating, or propagandising information, documents, or materials aimed at opposing the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam).
Bang's actions were deemed "very serious" and "dangerous" to society, infringing on national security, and must be strictly punished to educate the defendant and serve as a deterrent to others.
During the investigation and trial, the defendant was evasive and did not exhibit remorse or repentance.
However, the court has taken into account his age, illness, and the fact that this was his first offence, and decided to reduce the sentence accordingly, showing the leniency of the law.
Two other people, Phạm Thị Đoan Trang and Phạm Chí Thành, were also involved in the drafting, editing, publishing, and giving of materials with content that violated the law to Bang.
Currently, the security agencies and police of Hà Nội have initiated investigations into Trang on the charge of propagandising against the State and Thành for the crime of "making, storing, disseminating anti-State propaganda. — VNS