The government gave limited access to journalists wanting to cover the trial.

The presiding judge, Pham Duc Tuyen, said the family's crimes were "dangerous to the society, illegally violating the life and health of other people, violating the normal operations of the state agencies and causing bad impact on the social order and social management of Haiphong City in particular and the country as a whole."

Speaking to reporters after the trial, Vuon's defense lawyer, Nguyen Viet Hung, said, "I'm not happy. I had expected for a better verdict."

Activists opposed to one-party rule in Vietnam have defended the Vuon family. On Tuesday, scores of protesters braved a security clampdown to show their support for the family, and police arrested several near the courts. On Friday, there were no demonstrators, and authorities threatened to arrest journalists taking photographs outside the court unless they left the area.

Vietnamese authorities give citizens limited land rights and are allowed to seize it from them for national security or defense, economic development or the public interest. In some cases, that translates into industrial parks that bring jobs to the poor, or roads and bridges. But in an increasing number of cases, it means grabbing fish farms or rice paddies for golf courses and resorts accessible only to the rich.

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