Scores of people showed support for a Vietnamese fish farmer-turned-local hero as he appeared in court Tuesday for a trial at the heart of land rights issues – a political flashpoint in the communist country.

Duon Van Vuon allegedly led his family’s resistance when authorities tried to force them out of their fish farm in Tien Lang district, injuring six policemen using homemade guns in the melee, reports AFP.

Vuon and three other male relatives have been detained since the January 2012 incident and went on trial early Tuesday for attempted murder.

According to the indictment read out in court on Tuesday, Vuon and his relatives demonstrated “murderous behaviour” towards public officials. The charges carries a maximum sentence of death.

The family’s rare act of defiance draw nationwide outpouring of support with even Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung claiming the eviction was “illegal” and promising to prosecute corrupt local officials, AFP reports,

Five former local officials in the area will also be tried next Monday over the destruction of Vuon’s house.

Pro-democracy activist Pham Hong Son said Vuon will likely be given a harsh sentence to “create fear”.

“If the government gives a lenient sentence, it may urge other people to react more strongly,” he said.