Defendants at the court hearing. VNA/VNS Photo Hữu Quyết
SƠN LA An appeals court hearing opened in Sơn La yesterday to look into violations committed by local officials regarding the payment of land clearance compensation for the Sơn La Hydropower Plant.
In July, a first-instance hearing accused 13 officials from Mường La District of deliberately breaching State regulations on economic management, causing serious consequences.
Four others were charged with diminished responsibility, causing serious consequences.
Nine defendants including Trương Tuấn Dũng, 59, former permanent vice chairman of Mường La District People’s Committee, appealed the decision.
Dũng, who was also head of the district’s compensation and resettlement assistance council and former deputy director of the provincial Finance Department, was sentenced to six and a half years in prison.
Other defendants were sentenced to between five and a half years and 30 months in prison.
According to the indictment, in 2014, the provincial People’s Committee ordered the district’s authorities to plan compensation for households displaced by the hydropower plant.
Dũng signed off on a plan to allow the land registration office and Bảo Bình Consultation and Measurement Joint Stock Company based in Hà Nội to measure the land and draw up a map to calculate compensation.
The investigation discovered violations in the plan regarding land measurements.
One household received an extra sum of more than VNĐ1.2 billion, but was forced to return it and pay a fine of VNĐ64 million ($2,800) to the State budget.
Dũng’s plan was the direct cause of the violations, the court heard.
Other defendants who were former officials of the provincial departments of finance, natural resources and environment and leading officials of Mường La District followed the plan, causing huge losses to State budget.
Phan Tiến Diện, former vice chairman of Mường La District People’s Committee and deputy director of the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment; and Phan Đức Chính, former head of the district’s division of natural resources and environment, were also sentenced to six and a half year in prison.
The Sơn La Hydropower Plant is the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia, with construction costing nearly VNĐ35 trillion ($1.5 billion).
However, the cost of resettling thousands of people forced prices to shoot up by more than VNĐ6.3 trillion ($273.4 million) over budget. VNS