Reduced sentence for teenager following outcry

Tuan's sentence was reduced following a nationwide outcry

Tuan’s sentence was reduced following a nationwide outcry

A provincial court has reduced the jail sentence imposed on a teenager, who was convicted last year of causing deliberate injuries during a notorious land eviction case.

Nguyen Mai Trung Tuan, who was 14 at the time of the incident, was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in jail last year.

After an outcry by civil rights activists and lawyers, a provincial court in the southern province of Long An agreed to reduce the sentence by 2 years.

Tuan’s lawyers complained that even one day in prison was too much given the circumstances of the case. They said the court had failed to address major flaws in the evidence presented by prosecutors.

12 members of Tuan’s extended family received jail terms for their role in a pitched battle in 2014 when enforcement officers arrived to drive them off their land. The authorities said the land was needed for a flood prevention scheme.

Tuan was accused of throwing battery acid at the senior enforcement officer, inflicting severe burns on him.

Nine defence lawyers, who offered their services free of charge, argued that the extent of the injuries had not been proven and that the judge in the case had made statements that put into question his impartiality.

About one hundred activists and sympathisers gathered outside the court during the hearing. They were not allowed inside but could listen to the proceedings through loud speakers.

The case has attracted nationwide attention. It is one of a number of land development projects that have turned violent after farmers complained they were offered derisory compensation for their farmland

One retired judge argued that the authorities had been too heavy-handed given the young age of the defendant.

Tuan told the court that he simply wanted to go back to school.