The clash in May in central Danang City was between police and parishioners. It happened when villagers tried to bury a parishioner's body at a cemetery where the local government had banned burials because the land was slated for residential development. Nguyen Huu Minh and Phan Thi Nhan were given jail sentences of 12 months and nine months in October.

The Thanh Nien newspaper says the appeals court on Wednesday reduced the sentences, but did not say how much. Court officials were not available for comment.

The newspaper said Thursday that the pair were released for time served.

The Associated Press- January 27, 2011


Sentence reduced for protesting Catholic villager in Vietnam

A Catholic villager convicted of causing a public disorder last year during a protest over a burial in central Vietnam had his sentence reduced on appeal and was released, a court said Thursday.

Nguyen Huu Minh, 48, was accused of inciting villagers to attack police and cause public disorder in the May protests in Con Dau, which occurred when villagers tried to perform a Catholic burial in a cemetery the government had condemned for development into an ecotourism resort.

Minh was originally sentenced to a year in prison, but Nguyen Thanh, the judge in his appeal Wednesday before the Danang City People's Court, said he reduced the sentence to nine months because Minh had shown "repentance" while in prison.

He was released Wednesday because he had been detained for nine months.

Six people were convicted for their involvement in the protest, which involved hundreds of villagers. Another defendant was sentenced to nine months in prison, and the rest were given nine months of house arrest. All have now been released.

Villagers' relatives this summer told the US Congress that police had beaten villagers in the protest, killing at least one.

The official Viet Nam News newspaper charged that US congressmen had made "fabricated" statements about the clashes that "aim to smear Vietnam and to deceive US public opinion."

Deutsche Presse Agentur - January 28, 2011