HANOI Vietnam's government said on Monday it would prosecute protesters who last week blocked the country's main highway, taking a tougher stance against a string of protests over the country's worst environmental disaster.
About 100 people blocked Highway 1A a week ago with fishing nets, bricks and stones, holding up thousands of vehicles, the government said in a statement. It said those identified would be prosecuted for "causing public disorder".
The protest at the town of Ky Anh was against the steel mill being built by Taiwan's Formosa Plastics Corp's Vietnam unit. The $11 billion Ha Tinh plant last year accidentally spilled toxic waste that polluted more than 200 km (125 miles) of coast, sparking a wave of protests not seen during four decades of Communist Party rule.
Activists fear the mill could soon resume operations after the environment ministry announced the facility had met the necessary conditions to start test runs.
"Although Ky Anh authorities asked the crowd to disperse, some people swore, insulted officials and threw stones at the forces," said the government in a statement, adding that the police were investigating those involved.
Authorities warned it would enforce tough measures against any future gatherings in the area, the government said.
Those found guilty could face fines, government re-education programmes or jail terms.
On Saturday, the government uploaded a video confession by Nguyen Van Hoa, a blogger prosecuted for publishing contents that the government said were against the state and the ruling party. In the video, he apologised and asked for forgiveness for selling his conscience and his country.
(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Matthew Tostevin and Randy Fabi)