South African journalists were finally allowed into the multi-million Rand Nkandla homestead on Sund.
At a one-day trial in Gia Lai province, Pastor Nguyen Cong Chinh, 43, admitted he was in charge of a Mennonite Protestant church in the Central Highlands which was not registered with the government, a report in Communist Party newspaper Saigon Giai Phong reported.
Chinh, who was arrested in April, was also convicted of handing out anti-government leaflets and "enticing ethnic minorities to commit wrongdoing," the report said.
In communist Vietnam all churches have to be sanctioned by the state, a system criticized by rights groups.
"The overarching atmosphere for religious freedom in Vietnam is hostile," said John Sifton, Asia advocacy director for Human Rights Watch. He called the compulsory registration of religious groups and organisations "a deeply bureaucratic process riddled with pitfalls and Catch 22s."Author: Marianne Brown