VIETNAMESE EMBASSY REFUSES TO DISCUSS SUSSEX MAN’S CASE WITH EURO-MP
’SUSSEX MAN HELD IN VIETNAM MUST BE TRIED OR ALLOWED HOME’ - MEP
SUSSEX Euro-MP Caroline Lucas has intervened in the case of a local
businessman who has spent more than two years on bail in Vietnam - for a
crime he says he didn’t commit.
58-year-old Peter Laking, who has run a quarrying firm in the South-East
Asian state since 1993, faces fraud charges arising from a disagreement with
former business partners.
He was originally arrested in April 2004, and remanded in custody. For the
first four months of his detention, Mr Laking was denied access to lawyer,
and forced to sign Vietnamese documents he couldn’t understand.
A fraud trial – which could have ordered Laking’s execution – was put on
hold in January last year, pending further investigations. Laking was
released on bail but is not allowed to leave Vietnam, work – or even discuss
Now local Green Party MEP Caroline Lucas has teamed up with legal
campaigners at Fair Trials Abroad to try to ensure Mr Laking is tried fairly
and swiftly – or allowed to come home for the first time in two years.
Dr Lucas said: "Everyone involved in this case – but especially Peter Laking
- have been waiting almost two years for the Vietnamese justice system to
reach a judgement. Meanwhile, they are left in legal limbo, with Mr Laking
unable to leave Vietnam – or work – and entirely dependent on the goodwill
of Vietnamese friends.
"I have been working closely with Fair Trials Abroad and have called on the
UK Government to intervene more effectively to ensure the Vietnamese
government names a trial date and allows him to return home to the UK while
on bail. Unfortunately, a request to discuss the case with the Vietnamese
ambassador to the UK has been rebuffed, three times now.
"Regardless of what actually happened between Mr Laking and his former
business associates, he deserves access to timely justice, and should either
be brought before a court forthwith or freed and allowed to return home."