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Vietnamese farmers go on trial for fighting police

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April 1, 2013 11:45 PM EST | AP

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HAIPHONG, Vietnam — A Vietnamese court has begun hearing the trial of four fish farmers charged with attempted murder for fighting back against police and army officers seeking to evict them from their land last year.

The men are accused of using improvised explosive devices and shotguns and injuring seven security officers.

Despite the alleged violence, their plight and willingness to stand up to the state has earned them folk hero status in Vietnam, where anger at land seizures is one of the main sources of dissent against one-party rule.

Hundreds of police ringed the court in the northern city of Haiphong on Tuesday, ripping down posters from protestors and stopping news photographers.

Lawyers for the accused, land owner Doan Van Vuon and three relatives were not available for comment.