Trial against Human Rights Lawyer Tran Vu Hai and His Wife on Tax Evasion Allegation Scheduled on November 13

Lawyer Tran Vu Hai and his wife, who is the director of their law firm

Defend the Defenders, October 30, 2019


The People’s Court of Vietnam’s central coastal province of Khanh Hoa will hold the first-instance hearing on November 13 to try human rights attorney Tran Vu Hai and his wife Ngo Tuyet Phuong and two local citizens of tax evasion under Article 161 of the 1999 Penal Code, Defend the Defenders has learned.

As many as 24 lawyers have been registered to the court to voluntarily defense for the couple who may face administrative fines of between VND276 million ($11,700) and VND1.38 billion and or non-custodial reform for up to two years if are convicted.

According to the indictment against them, they were accused of committing a tax evasion worth VND276 million in a property deal in 2014. Mr. Hai and his wife reportedly bought a land parcel from Khanh Hoa province-based citizens Nguyen Thi Ngoc Hanh and Ngo Van Lam. The deal value was about VND16 billion but they reported to the local authorities just VND1.8 billion, by that way the sellers paid less tax for the deal. The province’s tax authorities had approved the deal.

Authorities in Khanh Hoa probed the case in early July and placed the four under restricted travel, including travel abroad. In addition, Khanh Hoa police also conducted searching Mr. Hai’s law office and a private residence in Hanoi, in which they allegedly took away a large sum of money and documents from other cases.

After being probed, Hai and his wife hired four lawyers named Bui Quang Nghiem, Trinh Vinh Phuc, Ha Huy Son and Ngo Anh Tuan and 20 others to represent them. Dozens of other lawyers have declared they would take part in legal assistance for the couple.

It seems that the probe is political as recently the Ministry of Public Security denied Mr. Hai’s request for representing former prisoner of conscience Truong Duy Nhat who is accused of “power abuse” after being kidnapped in Bangkok and taken to Vietnam in late January.

Lawyer Hai is well-known for his willingness to represent victims of injustice, victims of forced land appropriation and politically sensitive cases.