|The six defendants heard the court's verdict on Tuesday night. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — The judges’ council on Tuesday rejected the appeals of six defendants convicted of murder and resisting authorities in the deadly Đồng Tâm incident last year.
The judges’ council, presided over by Judge Ngô Tự Học, delivered the verdict a day earlier than originally scheduled.
The case revolved around a land plot in Hoành Village, Đồng Tâm Commune, Mỹ Đức District, Hà Nội, which State authorities set out as land for ‘national defence purpose’ decades ago (specifically for Miếu Môn military airport project), but left it mismanaged in the hands of local officials and many households had come to either farm or live on it.
Since 2013, the late Lê Đình Kình, considered the leader of the village, and Bùi Viết Hiểu, Lê Đình Công and several others established a so-called “consensus group” to take control of the land plot and divide among themselves, and eventually violently clashed with security forces on January 9, 2020, when they were deployed to set up barriers surrounding the demarcated military airport zone.
Three police officers and Kình died in the clash.
At the first-instance trial held in September last year, the Hà Nội People’s Court handed down penalties to 29 defendants and six later filed appeals for reduced sentences.
The judges at the appellate trial on Tuesday however said the case was "especially serious" as the defendants’ actions were “particularly dangerous, defying the law and showing contempt for other people’s lives and health” and that their actions were “organised and brutal,” leading to the deaths of three police officers.
“The first-instance judgement is reasonable and in line with the law,” the judges noted, adding that the sentences fit the crimes and there is no basis to accept the defendants’ appeals or their lawyers’ defence arguments.
The sentences were upheld against five defendants charged with murder and resisting on-duty officers – Lê Đình Công (57 years old) and Lê Đình Chức (41 years old) were sentenced to death; Lê Đình Doanh (33 years old) got life imprisonment, Bùi Viết Hiểu got 16 years behind bars and Nguyễn Quyết Tiến received 13 years.
Bùi Thị Nối, 63 years old, in her final words today, insisted she didn’t do “anything regretful” and asked her lawyers to help exonerate her of the six-year imprisonment for resisting officers, but her sentence was upheld.
Công, Hiểu and Tiến were deemed to be the ringleaders and found guilty of directing other defendants in the case in attempts to resist the authorities, while they committed murder.
Lê Đình Chức (Kình’s son) and Lê Đình Doanh (Công’s son, Kình’s grandchild) were deemed “proactive” participants in the crimes, while Lê Đình Công presided over meetings at Kình’s house to provoke other people to resist and attack the authorities.
Chức took part in the meetings, and on January 9, 2020, he threw a brick, 3-4 petrol bombs and one grenade at police officers.
Upon learning that some police officers had fallen down a well, Chức and Doanh poured burning gasoline down the well and used iron tubes fitted with knives to stop the officers from escaping. The cause of the officers’ death was deemed to be suffocation and fourth-degree burns.
Doanh attended the meeting and bought the knives to attach to the ends of the iron tubes. On the morning of January 9, he threw 3-4 petrol bombs and bricks towards the officers.
The judges said Doanh’s actions were dangerous and could have garnered a death penalty, but noted that he was still young and acted under the influence of Kình and his father, so life imprisonment serves as a reminder of the “humanitarian nature of the legal system". — VNS