The defendants at the trial. — VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tấn
HÀ NỘI — Hà Nội's High People’s Court opened an appeal trial on Monday into a case of involving the illegal acquisition of State-owned land by two former top leaders of Đà Nẵng and real estate mogul Phan Văn Anh Vũ.
The trial is expected to last six to eight days. The first-instance hearing for the case was held from January 2-13 this year. Of the 21 people convicted, 20 have filed appeals.
Trần Văn Minh, chairman of the city’s People’s Committee from 2006-11, is appealing against his combined sentence of 17 years on charges of breaching regulations on "the management and use of State assets, causing serious consequences", and violations of land management regulations. Minh claimed he had been following the city’s policies.
On Monday, Minh asked the jury to summon a representative of the Ministry of Public Security to determine the legality of the Dispatch No. 203 which instructed Minh to allow the ministry’s Bắc Nam 79 Construction Company to purchase land. He also asked the jury to summon Chairman of the Đà Nẵng People’s Committee Huỳnh Đức Thơ to clarify further changes to land-use purposes for several lots related to the case.
Former chairman of the city’s People’s Committee Văn Hữu Chiến, 66, asked the court to reconsider his punishment on the grounds of civilian liability. He was given a combined sentence of 12 years in prison on the same charges as Minh.
Phan Văn Anh Vũ is also appealing against his first-instance sentence of 30 years behind bars for the same charges.
The other defendants argued they had only followed instructions from their superiors and asked for reduced sentences.
According to the verdict at the first-instance trial, Minh and Chiến were tasked with managing the State’s assets and public land in the city during their time in office between 2006 and 2014.
The two repeatedly signed orders to illegally transfer land use rights to Vũ at much lower prices than those regulated by the Đà Nẵng People’s Committee.
At the time of the first-instance trial, Vũ was already serving a sentence of nine years after a Hà Nội court found him guilty of deliberately disclosing State secrets last year. — VNS