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Criminal investigation launched against protesters who held Hanoi officials hostage

Wednesday, June 14, 2017, 11:11 GMT+7

Hanoi police have begun a criminal investigation against protesters who held nearly 40 officials and police officers hostage for almost a week during a dispute over land outside Vietnam's capital in April.

The investigation aims to prove charges of “illegal arrest, custody or detention of private persons” and “destroying or deliberately damaging property”, Doan Duy Khuong, director of the Hanoi police department said on Tuesday.

In mid-April, a delegation of police and officials from Hanoi visited Dong Tam Commune in My Duc District, 40km from the capital, to witness a land dispute happening there.

A group of protesters then captured and kept 38 members of the delegation captive at the cultural house of the commune’s Hoanh village. The hostages included officials of My Duc District and officers of the Hanoi mobile police force.

Three of the hostages managed to escape, while 15 others were released on April 18. On April 22, the last 20 people were freed after Hanoi chairman Nguyen Duc Chung visited the village, speaking with residents and listening to their complaints.

The Dong Tam villagers complained that they had received insufficient compensation from authorities who had taken over residential land for a telecommunications project.

During his April 22 visit, chairman Chung said Hanoi would begin a comprehensive investigation of the dispute, stressing that none of the protesters would be prosecuted for taking the officials hostage.

Hanoi police said on Tuesday that they were collaborating with the relevant agencies to investigate the case.

Nguyen An Huy, deputy head of the capital’s inspectorate, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper the same day that the probe would be completed in 45 days and that “inspectors will have another 30 days to prepare their draft conclusion.”

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