U.S. drops case against legendary Laotian guerrilla leader

The Sacramento BeeSeptember 19, 2009 

SACRAMENTO, Calif. _ Facing the prospect of a trial with a weak case, the federal government has dropped its prosecution of Vang Pao, the legendary guerrilla fighter and patriarch of the Hmong people whose indictment on a charge of plotting an armed takeover of his native Laos set off protests in the streets of Sacramento and concern in the halls of Congress.

In the end, the case rested on the word of his wristwatch tape recorder and a dispute over what Vang said while inspecting an RV full of military-grade weapons outside a Thai restaurant in downtown Sacramento nearly three years ago.

The defense contended that the agent "simply fabricated" his account of Vang conspiring to invade Laos. And while the government earlier insisted conflicting information about what Vang said was an "honest mistake," federal officials announced Friday that all charges against Vang have been dropped.

"In our measured judgment, and based on the totality of the evidence in the case and the circumstances regarding defendant Vang Pao, we believe that continued prosecution of this defendant is no longer warranted," U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown said.

The case will continue against 10 other defendants originally charged and two added in a new indictment.

To read the complete article, visit www.sacbee.com.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service