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Vietnamese woman reportedly beaten by forest rangers arrested

Saturday, April 23, 2016, 11:24 GMT+7

A woman in the southern province of Dong Nai, who has submitted several denunciation forms against local forest protection officers after claiming to have been beaten by them, has been detained.

A representative from the People’s Procuracy Office in Nhon Trach District, confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that Nguyen Thi Anh Ngoc would be kept in custody for two months in order for police to investigate her obstruction of justice charges.

According to Do Ky Phong, Ngoc’s husband, she was first summoned to the police station to resolve some issues regarding forest protection, but was later handcuffed and escorted to the holding facility.

“I asked the officers why they had arrested my wife, and they said they were following the orders of their superiors. The police have not given a clear reason for detaining her,” Phong said.

An official at the Nhon Trach People’s Procuracy Office told Tuoi Tre(Youth) newspaper that Ngoc was arrested because she was involved in an obstruction of justice in September last year.

However, Nguyen Duc, president of the Dong Nai Lawyers Association, questioned the cause of the arrest, saying that it was strange that officers did not file the charge against her then and had waited until now.

Ngoc and her family members have been earning a living by raising shrimp at a small farm along the Thi Vai River in Dong Nai.

She told Tuoi Tre in late February that she and her father had been violently threatened by the forest protection officers, who had also destroyed several properties at the farm.

Ngoc said that she had submitted multiple denunciation letters to local authorities, along with photos taken as evidence, claiming that many forest rangers did not fulfill their duties, aiding and abetting sand thieves to continue their illegal activity.

Meanwhile, the chief of the local forest rangers justified their actions by saying that they were dealing with Ngoc’s violation, in which she and her family had taken advantage of her business activities to unlawfully build a house in the protected forest area.

Tran Quoc Bao, an official at the Southern Environment Department, confirmed that Ngoc had submitted multiple reports, thanks to which environment police had broken up several sand stealing rings.

A task force of inspectors was formed to probe Ngoc’s allegations of corrupt behavior by the forest rangers, but is yet to deliver their findings.

According to President Duc, the arrest raises public concern as Ngoc is still the victim of the previously unsolved case.

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