|The People’s Court of Hồ Chí Minh City sentenced a Vietnamese-American and two Vietnamese citizens to a total of 30 years in prison yesterday for engaging in activities to overthrow the people’s administration, in accordance with Article 109 of the 2015 Criminal Code. — VNA/VNS Photo|
US citizen Nguyễn Michael Phương Minh, born in 1964, was given a 12-year sentence, while Huỳnh Đức Thanh Bình, born in 1996 and residing in HCM City’s District 10, got 10 years in prison and Trần Long Phi, born in 1998 and residing in Đồng Nai Province’s Biên Hoà City, got 8 years.
Nguyễn Michael Phương Minh will be deported from Việt Nam after serving his time in prison.
A fourth defendant in the case, Huỳnh Đức Thịnh, who is Bình's father, was imprisoned for one year for not denouncing the criminals.
The judges said the defendants’ acts were especially serious, posing a danger to society and directly harming the existence of the people’s Government and State of the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam, and deserved strict punishment.
At the trial, all the defendants admitted to the charges.
Minh, Bình and Phi co-ordinated with a man named Lê Quốc Phong to establish an organisation called “Quốc nội quật khởi”, which drew up plans to buy weapons, conduct propaganda to incite people to join demonstrations and occupy Government offices in Hà Nội and Hồ Chí Minh City, as well as instigate riots aimed at overthrowing the Government of the Socialist Republic of Việt Nam and abolishing the leadership of the Communist Party of Việt Nam.
To carry out their schemes, Minh gave Phong US$2,000. He also came to Việt Nam in August 2017 and March 2018 to meet Bình for discussions. They maintained regular contact through social media and email. Through Bình’s intermediary role, Minh met Phong in HCM City and Phi in Thailand.
On June 28, 2018, Minh arrived in Việt Nam and the group gathered at the house of Bình’s father (Thịnh) in Đồng Nai to discuss a demonstration that took place in the south central province of Bình Thuận earlier that month. They also drafted plans to prepare petrol bombs and slings for the purpose of attacking Government offices, along with leaflets to incite people. Bình was assigned to travel to Thailand to buy the weapons. The group also travelled to Nha Trang in the central province of Khánh Hoà and Hue in the central province of Thừa Thiên-Huế to recruit more participants. On July 7, 2018, Minh, Bình, Phi returned to HCM City and were arrested.
Thịnh knew of the group’s plans but refused to take part. However, he did not report the group’s acts to the police.
Phong has fled and been named on the police wanted list. Besides the sum of $2,000 from Minh, Phong also received A$300 from Nguyễn Văn Bé Hai who is residing in Australia.
Police are investigating other suspects in association with the case.-VNS