A Ho Chi Minh City court on Wednesday handed jail terms ranging from four to 16 years to 15 terrorists, totaling 128 years of prison time, for those involved in plotting several terrorist attacks in southern Vietnam this year.
The 15 defendants began their trial on Monday faced with charges of “acting to overthrow the people's government,” “participating in terrorism to overthrow the government,” “damaging property,” and “stockpiling military weapons.”
By Wednesday, two days before the trial was scheduled to end, a guilty verdict had been given for the group’s role in detonating bombs at Tan Son Nhat International Airport and at a motorbike impound warehouse belonging to a police station in Dong Nai Province.
The girlfriend of one of the defendants also appeared in the same court on charges of “failing to denounce crimes.”
|Police escort Nguyen Thi Chung (front) and Ngo Thuy Tuong Vy to a court in Ho Chi Minh City on December 27, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
The terror attack on Tan Son Nhat took place on April 22, when three of the accused, Dang Hoang Thien, Truong Tan Phat, and Ngo Thuy Tuong Vy arrived separately at the Ho Chi Minh City airport with two petrol bombs equipped with remote detonation devices.
Phat and Vy were supposed to plant the bomb at the departure hall of the international terminal while Thien was responsible for blowing up the airport’s parking lot.
However, Phat and Vy made a last-minute decision to remove the battery from of the device after rethinking the consequences of their actions. They then alerted Thien that the bomb would be unable to explode.
Thien attempted to detonate a second bomb by dropping it onto the third floor of the parking lot but it failed to explode. He then picked up the explosive and placed it at the international departure hall where it was remotely detonated by Vy.
As the bomb maker, Thien was sentenced to 16 years in prison followed by a five-year probation period, the toughest penalty handed to any of the 15 convicts.
Vy was given an 11-year jail term plus three years of probation while Phat got five years in jail.
|Ngo Thuy Tuong Vy (white shirt) is seen at a court in Ho Chi Minh City in this photo taken from a TV screen. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
In a separate moderately successful attack carried out by the same terrorist group, Nguyen Duc Sinh, Thai Han Phong, and Vu Mong Phong set fire to a warehouse belonging to the Bien Hoa police department using a petrol bomb, causing total damages of VND1.3 billion ($57,269).
Sinh, who threw the bomb, was given ten years behind bars while Han Phong got 14 years in jail and five years of probation and Mong Phong received eight years.
The terrorist cell attempted several other attacks, all of which were foiled by authorities.
The Lee&Man paper mill in the Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang, Tan Son Nhat Airport, the Big C chain, and the house of a ward chairman in District 12, Ho Chi Minh City were among the targets of those botched attempts.
|Police escort Nguyen Duc Sinh to a court in Ho Chi Minh City on December 27, 2017. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Nine other defendants in the trial were slapped with jail terms of four to 12 years for their various roles.
Le Thi Thu Phuong, Thien’s girlfriend, was given an 18-month suspended sentence for knowing her boyfriend was making bombs for terroristic purposes but failing to report him to the police.
The convicted are members of a ‘counter-revolutionary’ terrorist cell led by Pham Anh Dao, aka Pham Lisa, and Dao Minh Quan. Both are wanted by the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security.