|Author (Person)||Banks, Martin|
|Series Title||European Voice|
|Series Details||Vol.7, No.41, 8.11.01, p10|
CONCERN is growing for an MEP who faces up to five years in jail after being arrested during a demonstration in Laos.
Olivier Dupuis, a member of Emma Bonino's Italian independent group, was among five people arrested on 26 October for displaying a banner with the words: "Democracy in Laos."
They were charged with "attacking the constitutional order" and are thought to be in a detention centre in the south-east Asian country which borders Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Burma.
Belgian-born Dupuis, 43, has been told he will be put on trial and, if found guilty, faces up to five years' imprisonment.
He and the other four were demonstrating against the arrest two years ago of five Laos students. No one has heard from the students since.
Dupuis' spokesman, Paola Atzori, said the deputy had spoken to the Italian Ambassador in Thailand and Dupuis appeared to be in good spirits.
He said: "However, he is very tired by the harsh conditions of the detention centre. He is not allowed to leave his cell and is being forced to eat prison food and drink prison water. "Everyone is very concerned for their welfare. No one is actually even sure where they are being held. We don't know if they are in an immigration centre, as the Laos authorities claim, or whether, as is more probable, in one of the police stations used by the Laos police as torture centres.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said yesterday (7 November): "I remain deeply concerned at the detention in Laos of a number of European nationals, including a member of the European Parliament, following their participation in a peaceful demonstration in support of freedom and democracy. "Following representations to the Laotian authorities access to the detainees has now been granted to a lawyer and diplomatic representatives.
However, their condition continues to be a matter of concern. "I call upon the Laos authorities to bring about a rapid and satisfactory conclusion to this incident, in full conformity with international law." It is not the first time Dupuis has hit the headlines. In June, he locked himself in a Ho Chi Minh City pagoda to protest against the arrest of two prominent members of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. He was arrested but later allowed to leave the country without charge. The other four detainees with Dupuis are Bruno Mellano, of the Piedmont regional council in Italy, Italian activists Silvja Manzi and Massimo Lensi and Nikolai Khramov, who runs the Trans-National Radical Party in Russia.
Concern is growing for MEP Olivier Dupuis, who faces up to five years in jail after being arrested during a demostration in Laos.
|Countries / Regions||Southeastern Asia|