|Cham Van Kham at the court (Photo: VNA)
The defendants include Cham Van Kham, a 70-year-old overseas Vietnamese in Australia, who received 12 years in prison; Nguyen Van Vien, 48, residing in district 12, Ho Chi Minh City, with 11 years; and 20-year-old Tran Van Quyen, residing in Di An town, the southern province of Binh Duong, with 10 years.
The sentences were in line with Article 113 of the 2015 Penal Code as the men were found “conducting terrorism against the people’s administration”.
The “Viet Tan” or “Vietnam canh tan cach mang dang” (Vietnam Reform Party) is a terrorist organisation of some Vietnamese in exile, established in Thailand in 1982 by Hoang Co Minh, a commodore of the navy in the former Sai Gon regime. Its current head is Do Hoang Diem, a US national born in 1963.
The organisation aims to abolish the leadership of the Communist Party of Vietnam and overthrow the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
On October 4, 2016, the Ministry of Public Security named “Viet Tan” as a terrorist organisation in Vietnam, saying those who participate in the organisation, propagandise, lure and incite others to participate in, finance or receive financial support from “Viet Tan”, attend training courses organised by “Viet Tan” or place themselves under the direction of “Viet Tan” will be viewed as accomplices of terrorism and terrorism financing and will be punished under Vietnam’s law.
The jury ruled although the men know that Viet Tan is a terrorist organisation, they still participated in activities under its direction, and their deeds have violated national security.
Kham will also be expelled from Vietnam after he completes the jail term, while Vien and Quyen each will be kept under surveillance for five years following their prison sentences.
Apart from the three defendants, the jury also sentenced Bui Van Kien, born in 1983 in the northern province of Hai Duong, to four years in jail; Nguyen Thi Anh, born in 1992 in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap, to three years; and Tran Thi Nhai, born in 1984 in the central province of Nghe An, also to three years for “forgery of seals and documents of agencies and organisations.”
Kien will have to pay a fine of 10 million VND (431.5 USD), and Anh and Nhai 5 million VND each.
According to the indictment of the Supreme People’s Procuracy, Diem is the mastermind behind the case. Between late 2018 and early 2019, he continuously directed key members of the organisation to develop forces and infiltrate into Vietnam to incite demonstrations against the Vietnamese state.
Kham joined “Viet Tan” in 2010, and was one of the active members of the organisation. He lured and admitted Nguyen Van Vien
, a Grab motorbike driver, to “Viet Tan”.
In a further investigation, police arrested Tran Van Quyen, a camera installer, and three others. Quyen joined “Viet Tan” in September 2018 at the instruction of Diem.
Police are hunting for Diem and some others who are now in the US.