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Laos: Imprisoned after unfair trial

Worldwide Appeals

Ethnic Hmong Lao nationals Thao Moua and Pa Fue Khang are serving prison sentences of 12 and 15 years respectively for assisting two European journalists and their interpreter.

The journalists were researching ethnic Hmong hiding in the Lao jungle. The Hmong regularly come under attack by the Lao military and are forced to live on the move, putting them at risk of starvation and disease. Thao Moua, Pa Fue Khang and Char Yang were working as guides for the group when they were arrested on 4 June 2003. During pre-trial detention, the three guides were reportedly made to wear leg shackles and were beaten with sticks and bicycle chains. Thao Moua and Pa Fue Khang were brought to trial, along with the journalists and interpreter, in Xieng Khouang province on 30 June 2003. Char Yang escaped detention and was tried in his absence.

The trial lasted less than three hours. Thao Moua and Pa Fue Khang had no legal representation, and the outcome of the trial was apparently pre-determined. All the defendants were handed down lengthy prison sentences; however, the journalists and interpreter were released and deported on 9 July 2003. Thao Moua and Pa Fue Khang were transferred to Samkhe prison in Vientiane, where Hmong prisoners are at risk of torture, denial of medical care and other ill-treatment. Amnesty International believes that the unfair trial was politically motivated.

*Please write, calling for Thao Moua and Pa Fue Khang to be given a prompt and fair retrial which meets international standards. Urge the authorities to investigate the allegations that they were tortured in detention and ensure those responsible are brought to justice.

Send appeals to: Bouasone Bouphavanh,

Prime Minister, Prime Minister's Office, Rue Sisavat, Vientiane, Laos

Fax: + 856 212 13560

Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

aus: the wire, July 2008. Vol. 38, No. 6