Federal prosecutors to drop all charges in Laos overthrow plot

SACRAMENTO

The U.S. attorney's office in Sacramento filed a motion to drop the charges "in the interests of justice," according to court documents obtained by The Associated Press.

"Based on the totality of the circumstances in the case, the government believes, as a discretionary matter, that continued prosecution of defendants is no longer warranted," said the motion, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento.

The move follows the death of Hmong leader and Vietnam War-era Gen. Vang Pao last week. Vang Pao was dropped from the case in 2009.

A federal judge in November dismissed key parts of the case against the 11 members of the Hmong community and a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel. That included the government's charge that the men violated the federal Neutrality Act.

The act prohibits people in the United States from taking part in a military action against the government of another nation with which the U.S. is at peace.

The men were arrested in 2007 and accused of plotting to send fighters and weapons, including machine guns and explosives, to Southeast Asia to attack Laos. All had pleaded not guilty.

The 11 are members of California's Hmong community, many of whom fought alongside U.S. troops during the Vietnam War.

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