Laos: Death and No Verdict

A Christian leader died Sept. 17 of medical complications which were the result of a lengthy prison sentence for his faith. Though Tiang Kwentianthong had been released on appeal, the courts had not made a final verdict on an appeal at the time of his death. The verdict was more than 150 days overdue.

Tiang was one of five Christian leaders arrested June 24, 2014 and charged with medical malpractice after praying for a sick woman who later died. Tiang and the four others were found guilty in February 2015, sentenced to serve nine months in prison and pay a fine for their role in the death of the woman.

During his imprisonment, Tiang requested permission to be treated for his worsening diabetic condition, but authorities denied the request. Tiang received no medical treatment between his initial arrest in June and his release on March 20, 2015. His family took him to a hospital as soon as he was released.

Following the verdict, Tiang and the other Christians filed an appeal on March 6, 2015, stating that there was no factual or legal basis for the court’s ruling. Though the Court of Appeals has 45 days to make a judgment, Tiang’s death came after waiting 196 days for an outcome.

Tiang accompanied four other Christian leaders - Mr. Puphet, Mrs. Kaithong, Mr. Muk, and Mr. Hasadee - to the home of a sick woman in June 2014. The woman was a new convert to Christianity and had been sick nearly five years. The leaders prayed for two days, but when she did not get better, they took her to a hospital, where she was treated and released. She died shortly after going home.

When the family sought permission to hold a Christian burial on June 23, authorities arrived at the family home and attempted to force the family to recant their faith and prevented the family from performing the funeral service. Village authorities brought in Buddhist monks to perform the funeral service and Tiang and the other Christian leaders were arrested.

No decision has been made on the appeal of the other four Christian leaders.

Source: VOM contacts

Posted: October 28, 2015


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