Vietnamese Embassy bomber claims he is "for freedom and human rights"
The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court began Monday the trial of Vietnamese dissident Vo Duc Van, who was charged with bombing the Vietnamese Embassy in Bangkok nearly six years ago.
His lawyer, Worasit Piriyawiboon suggested to the court yesterday that Van should be freed as the US court dismissed his case of the same charge. The Thai Panel Code Procedure prohibits a repeat trial of the same charge, he said.
The court will make a decision on April 30 on whether the lawyer's suggestion has legal grounds and if not how to continue with the trial.
A bomb exploded at the embassy on June 19, 2001. Police managed to defuse two other bombs. No one claimed responsi¬bility for the attack.
Police arrested a few Vietnamese in Thailand, including Pham Nguyen Thanh Hien Si, whose case is now awaiting judge¬ment from the Supreme Court.
The primary court handed down eight years and two months imprisonment for the attack.
Van, who narrowly escaped a manhunt in Thailand, was arrest¬ed in the United States in October 2001 for taking part in the embassy bombing.
He was indicted in a US court for the attack before the Thai gov¬ernment requested his extradition on the same charge and extradited to Thailand early this year to face the charge in the Thai court.
"My case was dismissed by the US court. It is a symbolic act for freedom and democracy. I stand for human rights and democracy in Vietnam," he told reporters outside the courtroom.
"I am confident that the sym¬bolic act, of which I am charged, will be seen by those living in free and democratic countries around the world, as patriotic in the fight for a free and democratic Vietnam", he said in written statement dis¬tributed to reporters yesterday.
Born in My Tho, South Vietnam, Van, 48, fled the country in 1980 by boat to escape political prosecution. He settled in the US later and attended California State University and earned a bachelor degree in civil engineering. He is an American citizen.
Last week, a Bangkok criminal court freed another Vietnamese dissident, Ly Tong having rejected an extradition request from Hanoi in connection with his flight to dump anti-Communist leaflets over Ho Chi Minh City in 2000.