Vietnam begins trial of 29 villagers in deadly land dispute

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — A Vietnamese court on Monday began the trial of 29 villagers accused of involvement in a deadly clash with police over a land dispute, state media reported.

State broadcaster VTV said 25 of the defendants are accused of murdering three policemen using grenades, firebombs and spears as the authorities advanced on Dong Tam village in the suburbs of Hanoi in January, and could face the death penalty. The police were trying to stop the villagers from blocking the building of a wall around a military airport on land they said belonged to the village.

The four others are accused of “opposing those who are on public duties,” VTV said.

The leader of the village, a 84-year-old man, was killed during the clash, it said.

The trial is expected to last 10 days.

Land disputes are common in Vietnam because the government does not recognize private land ownership. Land can be taken for infrastructure and investment projects, and disagreements over compensation often lead to prolonged disputes.

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