Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The People’s Court of outlying Mỹ Đức district of Hà Nội on Wednesday pronounced sentences at the first instance trial on law violations regarding land management in the district’s Đồng Tâm Commune.
Accordingly, 10 faced charges of abusing their positions and power while on duty in pursuant to Article 281 of the Penal Code. They included three former chairmen of the Đồng Tâm communal People’s Committee, Nguyễn Văn Sơn, Lê ĐìnhThuần and Nguyễn Văn Bột, who received 36-month and 42-month sentences and a 18-month suspended sentence, respectively. Others were sentenced to between 24-78 months in jail.
On the charge of demonstrating “irresponsibility causing serious consequences”, Phạm Hữu Sách, former director of Mỹ Đức district’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Trần Trung Tấn, an official of the district’s Land Registration Office, were granted a 24-month suspended sentence. Đinh Văn Dũng, former director of Mỹ Đức district’s Land Registration Office; and Bạch Văn Đông, former deputy director of the district’s Land Registration Office, were sentenced to 36 and 30 months in prison, respectively.
According to the indictment, between 2002 and 2013, Bột, Sơn, Thuần, and other key officials of Đồng Tâm commune illegally allocated and granted land to some local households, or legalised land that some households occupied illegally.
The four indicted district officials did not fulfil their responsibilities of verifying the origin of the land, resulting in the unlawful granting of land-use certificates. Đồng Tâm Commune’s People Committee got approval from the People’s Committee of former Hà Tây province to allocate 5,425 sq.m of land managed by the commune’s People’s Committee to 49 local households for housing.
Bột, as chairman of the Đồng Tâm commune People’s Committee, and Nguyễn Xuân Trường as official in charge of land registration, handed over 4,095 sq.m of land to only 39 out of the 49 eligible households.
When Sơn took over the post of chairman of the Đồng Tâm Commune in 2002, he agreed to grant the remaining 1,300 sq.m of land to ten key officials of the commune, who had to pay only VNĐ100,000 per sq.m.
Between 2011-2013, Đồng Tâm People’s Committee officials also helped with the legalisation of applications for land-use certificates of 12 households for a total area of 1,834 sq.m, which was allocated or illegally occupied during 2002-2003.
Trường, as the local land registration official, confirmed in the applications that the land of the households was granted before October 15, 1993 and there was no dispute concerning the land.
Thuần, as the then Chairman of the commune People’s Committee, approved the applications to be submitted to the district’s administration. Authorised district officials approved the applications without conducting the necessary verification.
The violations made by the officials were uncovered and investigated following complaints from residents.
Đồng Tâm commune made headlines in local media for a land scandal in late March and mid-April when 38 civil servants and some police personnel were held hostage by the commune’s residents.
The residents were protesting what they considered was the unjustified revoking of land where they had built homes and lived for many years. As tensions escalated in March, police opened an investigation against the residents for "disturbing social order".
Matters came to a head on April 15, when police arrested four people. Local villagers retaliated by surrounding and seizing 38 officials, including police officers. — VNS