Vietnam jails 10 more for protests over economic zones

HANOI (Reuters) - A court in Vietnam on Monday jailed 10 people for terms ranging from two to 3-1/2 years after they were arrested in last month’s nationwide protests against new economic zones, state media said.

Despite sweeping reforms, communist-ruled Vietnam tolerates little dissent and arrested the 10 at protests sparked by fears that investors from China would dominate land leases for up to 99 years being offered for development of the economic zones.

The official Voice of Vietnam Radio said a people’s court in the central province of Binh Thuan convicted the offenders, aged between 18 and 43, of “causing public disorder”.

They were seen hurling bricks and stones at police, besides damaging several police vehicles and causing traffic jams during a June 10 protest, it cited the indictment as saying.

Their lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

Monday’s trial came days after a court in Ho Chi Minh City ordered the release and deportation of an American man of Vietnamese descent accused of the same charge.

William Anh Nguyen, 32, detained in a protest in Vietnam’s economic hub, had been in police custody until his release.

Police arrested dozens of people during the June protests, which spanned several cities and turned violent in Binh Thuan.

A court in the province this month jailed six protesters who clashed with police for periods ranging from two to 2-1/2 years.

Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Clarence Fernandez