Vietnam dissidents defiant in court despite jail term reductions
The Hanoi court reduced the prison sentence of human rights lawyer Nguyen Van Dai, 38, from five years to four, and the sentence of his 28-year-old colleague Le Thi Cong Nhan from four years to three.
But it upheld their May convictions under article 88 of spreading propaganda against the state, charges the two non-violent political activists rejected in their final words to the People's Supreme Court appeal hearing.
"I reject both trials because they never would have brought a fair and objective sentence for me," said Dai, flanked by two police officers. "The reason for my struggle is the lack of democracy and human rights in Vietnam."
Nhan also openly challenged the court, in a hearing that was watched via closed circuit television by foreign media and diplomats, calmly telling the panel that it was "still on the wrong path.""Even if I had been freed today, it would have been like being moved from a small to a big prison," she said. "I would continue to express my opinion.
Dai's lawyer Bui Quang Nghiem also argued article 88 was unconstitutional.
"If a law runs counter to reality and international conventions, courage is needed to change or modify it," he said. "Dai and Nhan are innocent, and I ask for their freedom."