Vietnam court commutes sentences of policemen in brutality case

By VnExpress   September 11, 2016 | 11:39 pm PT
Vietnam court commutes sentences of policemen in brutality case
Five police officers from Phu Yen Province stand trial in a file photo. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Truong
A 30-year-old theft suspect in the central province of Phu Yen was killed during an interrogation.

Vietnam’s supreme court on Monday cut jail terms for two policemen convicted in the death of a suspect in their custody, in a controversial case that first went to trial more than two years ago.

The court, after a hearing in the central city of Da Nang on Monday, reduced the jail terms for Nguyen Than Thao Thanh from eight years to five, and for Nguyen Tan Quang from two years in jail to two-year probation.

They are among five officers from the central province of Phu Yen who have been found guilty for beating a theft suspect to death during interrogation in 2012. The victim, Ngo Thanh Kieu, was 30.

During the first trial in April 2014, Thanh, 32, received a five-year sentence as he was held directly responsible for dealing the fatal blow to Kieu’s head. Quang was put on probation for 18 months.

But the victim’s family lodged an appeal. The media reported widespread public discontent with the punitive measures, which were also criticized as too lenient in various editorials.

The strong reaction prompted a fresh investigation and a retrial.

A provincial court last year gave Thanh eight years and Quang two years.

The group then appealed the decisions. The supreme court on Monday commuted the sentences of Thanh and Quang. It however upheld jail terms of up to 30 months against the other three officers.

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