Two Saigon cops face prosecution after man dies in custody

By Nhat Vy   November 16, 2018 | 07:52 pm PT
Two Saigon cops face prosecution after man dies in custody
Police arrest Chau Dung Thanh, in blue T-shirt, on October 17 and take him to a detention center in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Nhat Vy
Investigators of Vietnam’s top prosecution agency arrested two HCMC police officers Friday for beating a suspect to death.

Nguyen Dinh Nhon, 27, and Phung Tran Hoang, 25, are facing charges with using physical violence while questioning robber suspect Chau Dung Thanh at a detention center in District 11.

Under Vietnam’s Penal Code, those who resort to corporal punishment while investigating, prosecuting, adjudicating or executing judgements can be sentenced up to 12 years in jail.

On October 17, Thanh, 35, was chased by the district’s police for snatching a cell phone from a Grab driver. He hid inside an online game shop, resisted police officers and threatened to kill himself, local reports said.

After three hours, he was persuaded by his family to go out. Then, he was held in custody at the district’s detention center for questioning about the phone theft. Reports said he refused to cooperate with the police and berated them.

He also showed signs of being high on drugs.

Around 4 a.m. the next day, Thanh felt pain all over his body. He was taken to the local hospital, where he died later.

An autopsy identified pulmonary edema (fluid collection in the lungs) as the cause of death. Since the death took place just a few hours after being interrogated by the police, his family demanded an investigation into his death.

Based on camera footage from the detention center and testimonies of several people, investigators suspect the two police officers had beaten the detained man.

Thanh’s family confirmed that he was physically in good shape in the morning prior to the arrest and had only suffered minor injuries in his hands.

In the afternoon, the family had received a phone call from police, saying he was suspected of stealing property. When his family went to the game shop to persuade him to surrender, they found him normal.

Several instances of suspects dying in police custody have been reported across Vietnam in recent years.

Five policemen in the central Ninh Thuan Province last September were jailed for three to seven years for beating a male prisoner to death.

In 2016, a court in Ho Chi Minh City sentenced a former traffic police officer to 12 years in prison for asking thugs to beat a traffic violator to death, following an argument.

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