A court in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Friday postponed a trial hearing of an RFA blogger held in jail for more than a year, after his lawyers declined to attend, Vietnam’s state media said.
Hanoi’s Judicial Council will reopen the trial on March 9, the report said.
Dang Dinh Manh—a lawyer representing blogger Truong Duy Nhat—told RFA’s Vietnamese Service on Thursday that he had formally asked the court to postpone the trial because the second member of his legal team, Ngo Anh Tuan, was never summoned to attend.
“If we are not present in court, the trial cannot take place unless Truong Duy Nhat agrees that it can go ahead without his lawyers being present, and I am sure that he won’t agree to this,” Ngo said.
Truong Duy Nhat, a weekly contributor to RFA’s Vietnamese Service, disappeared in Bangkok in late January 2019 amid fears he had been seized by Vietnamese agents, and two months later was revealed to be under arrest in Hanoi.
Kidnapped in Thailand
Nhat, who had earlier been jailed in Vietnam from 2013 to 2015 for his writings criticizing Vietnam’s government, was charged by police investigators in July 2019 with “abusing his position” in a case involving the sale of public land at an eventual loss to the state of over VND $13 billion.
The new charge was filed after investigators failed to find sufficient evidence to convict him on an earlier charge of illegally acquiring property, his wife and a family friend told RFA in an earlier report.
“Truong Duy Nhat had already been charged with a serious crime, but now he is being prosecuted for another crime for which he could be sentenced to from 10 to 15 years in jail,” attorney Ngo Anh Tuan said.
Speaking to RFA on Thursday, Truong’s daughter Truong Thuc Doan, now living in Canada, said she agrees with her father’s lawyers’ decision not to take part in the trial set for Friday.
“I believe that my father will ask that the trial be postponed, as both his lawyers won’t be allowed to be present. If the trial goes ahead anyway, this will be a violation of the law,” she said.
Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Huynh Le. Written in English by Paul Eckert.