Friday, September 18, 2009
SACRAMENTO, CA - Federal prosecutors have dismissed charges against Gen. Vang Pao in a two-year-old case involving an alleged plot to overthrow the government of Laos.
The stunning revelation came in a superceding indictment unsealed Friday. The new indictment adds two names to the case, but removes the general as an alleged conspirator.
In a formal motion to dismiss, the U.S Attorney's office said that "based on the totality of the evidence in the case ... prosecution of defendant Vang Pao is no longer warranted."
Gen. Vang is a hero in the Hmong community for his role in fighting the communists alongside U.S. forces in southeast Asia. His court appearances were marked by peaceful demonstrations featuring thousands of Hmong outside the federal courthouse in downtown Sacramento.
News10 spoke to Hmong leaders Friday afternoon who said they were ecstatic to learn of the dismissal of charges. They said the general is a father figure to their people. However, they're puzzled why two additional Hmong would be indicted.
The two new defendants, Jerry
They face conspiracy and other charges. They pleaded not guilty and were released. Bail will be set at a later date, according to the court.
That brings to 12 the number of men indicted in the case that dates back to spring 2007.
The original 10 defendants still charged in the case remain free on bail pending trial.