Police under investigation after suspect dies in custody in central Vietnam

By Xuan Ngoc, Xuan Hoa   September 20, 2017 | 10:22 am GMT+7

Five officers have been suspended after the drug trafficking suspect died from multiple injuries.

Vietnam's top prosecution agency on Tuesday launched a criminal probe into the death of a man who died while in police custody in the central province of Ninh Thuan.

Vo Tan Minh, 25, was arrested in April on drug trafficking charges and was initially held at Ninh Thuan Prison in Thuan Bac District.

He was transferred to Phan Rang-Thap Cham Town Prison on the morning of September 8. However, officers were forced to rush Minh to hospital later that same day after finding him covered in multiple injuries, which he succumbed to that afternoon.

Local authorities on September 10 claimed a fight had broken out in the prison at the time of the incident, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.

However, an initial investigation suggests that prison officers may have used corporal punishment against Minh, which is against Vietnamese law, according to the Supreme People's Procuracy, Vietnam's top prosecution agency.

Five officers from Phan Rang-Thap Cham's police department have been suspended as part of the investigation, said Colonel Pham Huyen Ngoc, head of Ninh Thuan's police department.

Prosecutors are continuing their investigation.

In July, another suspect also died in police custody in Phan Rang-Thap Cham. Nguyen Hong De, 26, was found hanging in the questioning room while being investigated for assault. However, the case was ruled as suicide, according to Giao Thong (Transport) newspaper.