Court pronounces sentences in Dong Tam land case

11/08/2017
The People’s Court of outlying My Duc district of Hanoi, on August 8, announced the sentences at the first instance trial on law violations regarding land management in the district’s Dong Tam commune.
Accordingly, 10 individuals faced the charge of abusing their position and power while on duty, in pursuant to Article 281 of the Penal Code. They include three former chairmen of the Dong Tam communal People’s Committee Nguyen Van Son, Le Dinh Thuan and Nguyen Van Bot who received 36, 42 and 18-month suspended sentences, respectively. Others were sentenced to 24 months – 78 months in jail.
On the charge of showing “irresponsibility causing serious consequences”, Pham Huu Sach, former head of My Duc district’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Tran Trung Tan, an official of the district’s Land Registration Office, were given a 24-month suspended sentence.
Dinh Van Dung, former director of My Duc district’s Land Registration Office; and Bach Van Dong, former deputy director of the district’s Land Registration Office, were sentenced to 36 months and 30 months in prison, respectively.
According to the indictment, between 2002 and 2013, Bot, Son, Thuan, and other key officials of Dong Tam commune illegally allocated and granted land to a number of local households, or legalised land that certain households occupied illegally.
The four indicted district officials did not fulfill their responsibility for verifying the origin of the land, resulting in the unlawful granting of land-use certificates.
Dong Tam Commune’s People Committee received approval from the People’s Committee of former Ha Tay province to allocate 5,425 sq.m of land managed by the commune People’s Committee to 49 local households for the purpose of housing.
Bot, as chairman of the Dong Tam commune People’s Committee, and Truong, as official in charge of land registration, handed over 4,095 sq.m of land to just 39 out of the 49 eligible households.
When Son took over the post of chairman of the Dong Tam 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 just VND100,000 per sq.m.
Between 2011 and 2013, the Dong Tam People’s Committee officials also helped with the legalisation of applications for land-use certificates of 12 households, with a total area of 1,834 sq.m, which were allocated, or illegally occupied, during 2002 and 2003.
Truong, as the local land registration official, gave his confirmation that the applications for the land of the households was granted before October 15, 1993 and there was no dispute concerning the land.
Thuan, 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 required verification process.
The violations by the officials were detected and investigated following complaints from local residents.
Dong Tam commune made headlines in the local media for a land scandal in late March and mid-April when 38 civil servants and a number of police personnel were held hostage by the commune’s residents.
The residents were protesting what they considered as an unjustified revoking of the land on which they’d built their homes and had 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.
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