Conspiracy Charges Against General Vang Pao Dropped

September 18, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Hundreds of thousands of Hmong across the U.S. are celebrating the dismissal of federal charges against their leader General Vang Pao.A federal judge Friday -- issued a new indictment-- dismissing charges against the general. Two years ago -- General Vang Pao and ten others were charged with plotting to overthrow his former government in Laos. Prosecutors added two new names to that list, but they removed the popular Hmong leader. Action News reporter John-Thomas Kobos shows us reaction from some of the general's strongest supporters.

Click here and you'll find links to previous stories, including the history of General Pao's struggle with the federal government.

All Friday long people have been calling loved ones to celebrate the news that their leader General Vang Pao is no longer being prosecuted here in the U.S. Many in the Hmong community said they knew Pao was innocent, now they are rejoicing ... some are even crying.

To understand what General Vang Pao means to the Hmong community just listen to Chong Lo Vang and Xiong Pa Lee, two soldiers who fought by his side in Vietnam.

"We will die on his behalf. We don't care if they take a bull dozer or a car and run over us, we don't care," said Vang.

Lee: "If they take our general they might as well kill us with him too because we will not live without him. Because he gives us life."

It's not just soldiers who revere and respect Pao but the thousands of people he freed from persecution in Laos after Vietnam like Paula Yang.

Yang spent most of Friday celebrating the dismissal of charges against General Vang Pao. In June 2007 he was charged with conspiracy to overthrow his former government.

Since then thousands have gathered to support him at rallies across the country and here in Fresno and Sacramento. Pao even called Yang with a special message to his people. "He so happy that he's speaking in English and says, 'Yeah, I love you.' And 'I love you too,' and 'Thank you'" Yang exclaimed.

Popular Asian radio talk show host Moua Vang said the calls haven't stopped. "This lady she called me, she screaming ... 'Hey I heard General Vang Pao case is dismissed!' so she's screaming," he said.

"I think a lot had to do with the federal district judge on this case," said ABC 30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi.

Capozzi believes there was plenty of political pressure to release Pao.

Capozzi: "They could still come back if they find other evidence. I doubt that. I think with his stature in the community and what he's done for the government in the past and his age in health, I think those are factors in the government dismissing."

Twelve men still face these conspiracy charges. Saturday morning hundreds are expected to rally here at this Hmong memorial outside the Fresno county courtyard. The rally starts at 10.

General Vang Pao is in L.A. right now but people close to him say they are trying to get him to show up.

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