A Lao Christian Sentenced to 9 Months in Prison Died Waiting for His Appeal to Be Decided

Kaysone Phomvihane, Savannakhet Province
Advocacy Alert No. 06/2015
September 20, 2015

Mr. Tiang Kwentianthong, age 61, a Christian believer of Huey village in Atsaphangthong district of Savannakhet province, who was arrested on June 24, 2014, in Saisomboon village in Savannakhet province and sentenced to nine months in prison by the People’s Court of Savannakhet, died on September 17, 2015, from his diabetic condition that had become very severe. While in prison in Savannakhet province for almost nine months, Mr. Tiang continued to suffer severe diabetes. During his imprisonment in Savannakhet provincial prison, Mr. Tiang requested permission to be treated for his worsening diabetic condition but the prison officials denied his request.

Mr. Tiang left behind – his wife, Mrs. Bow, age 60; his older sister, Mrs. Mon, age 67 and his six children: Mr. Tiam, age 44; Mrs. Dye, age 42; Mr. Tong, age 40; Mr. Ta, age 38; Mr. Phan, age 36; and Mrs. Chanh, age 33.

Mr. Tiang, along with Mr. Puphet Phanmalaithong, Mrs. Kaithong Khounphaisan, Mr. Muk Boulakham, and Mr. Hasadee Thammathoun, was finally released from prison on March 20, 2015, in order to appeal his sentence with the Court of Appeals in Pakse, Champasak province. Immediately after his release, Mr. Tiang was taken to the hopital and began treatment for his severe diabetic condtion.

On February 12, 2015, the People’s Court of Savannakhet Province founded him, along with Puphet, Kaithong, Muk, and Hasadee, guilty of violation of a medical law and thus handed down a sentence of nine months in prison and huge fines. By praying for healing for a five-year-long sick and dying elderly woman who later died after being admitted and treated medically at the hospital, the five were found guilty of conducting treatment without proper medical authorization, causing the death of the elderly woman. In deciding the case, the People’s Court of Savannakhet province equated healing prayer with medical treatment, thus requiring medical authorization from the Ministry of Health. (See Lao Christian Prisoners and Families Threatened with Longer Imprisonment After Appealing Verdict)

On March 6, 2015, Mr. Tiang, along with Puphet, Kaithong, Muk, and Hasadee, appealed the verdict of the People’s Court of Savannakhet province with the Court of Appeal because the verdict did not have factual and legal basis. According to the regulations regarding appeal (Article 216 of Law on Criminal Procedure 2012), the Court of Appeal must make judgement on the appeal case within 45 days from the receipt of the case. However, after 196 days had passed when Mr. Tiang passed away on September 20 from his worsening diabetic condition, the Court of Appeals still had not made judgement on the case .

The HRWLRF demands that the Lao government with the Savannakhet provincial prison officials take responsibility for the death of Mr. Tiang who was arrested and imprisoned illegally and who was denied request for medical treatment for his worsening diabetic condition.

The HRWLRF urges the Courts of Appeal to consider and make judgement on the appeal filed by the remaining four prisoners, namely Puphet, Kaithong, Muk, and Hasadee, because the deadline for the Court of Appeals to decide the case is now 154 days passed the time limit for the case to be decided.

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