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Vietnamese police chief accused of illegal arrest, torture

Vietnamese police chief accused of illegal arrest, torture

Monday, May 30, 2016, 15:54 GMT+7

A police chief in the south-central Vietnamese province of Phu Yen has been accused of illegally arresting a local citizen and meting out corporal punishment to him in March.

Nguyen Kim Thanh, 20, residing in Hoa Dinh Dong Commune, Phu Hoa District, has submitted a denunciation letter to local authorities, stating that Huynh Tan Tra, chief of the police station in the commune, and his officers had wrongfully detained and caused injuries to him during interrogation.

Thanh was kept in custody as he was suspected to throw rocks and break the windows of Tra’s house.

According to Vo Thi Su, Thanh’s mother, the police chief, along with two other officers, came to their house at around 2:00 am on March 29, requesting to enter the residence to examine their family register.

The police officers then demanded that they see Thanh before escorting the man to the station on their motorbike, Su recounted.

Upon arriving at the police station, Thanh was asked if he and his group of friends did break the windows of Tra’s house, he said.

“As I said I did not know anything about it, Tra hit me in my back several times with his baton, handcuffed my left arm to the chair and went on to beat me in my waist,” Thanh continued.

The police officer also attacked his detainee with an electric baton, Thanh stated, adding that he was released at about 4:00 am and had to walk home.

Su recalled that her son crumbled and lost consciousness the moment he reached his house, with several bruises found on his back and abdomen.

She added that the officers arrested Thanh without any warrant, decision or evidence.

Nguyen Van Tuat, Thanh’s father, contacted the police chief the following day to seek clarification of the incident but failed to reach him.

The family was invited to the police station for a meeting on March 31, during which Tra explained his reason of arrest, admitted that it was wrong for him to beat Thanh, and offered to pay all his medical bills.

The police chief also arrived at Thanh’s house, offering VND1 million (US$44.59) and asking him not to file any lawsuit, which was turned down by the family, according to Su.

On April 1, Thanh was taken to a local clinic and diagnosed with soft tissue injury, she said.

The woman came to the police department in Phu Hoa District on April 4 and 5 to request an evaluation of Thanh’s wounds, which could provide proof for an investigation.

“My request was denied and only accepted on May 9. Results of the assessment on May 27 showed that Thanh suffered zero percent of injury,” Su said.

Another side of the story

During a brief interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, Tra stated that the incident was not serious, adding that Thanh’s family “overreacted.”

Meanwhile, Nguyen Thi Nhi, chairwoman of the People’s Committee in Hoa Dinh Dong Commune, asserted that she was not aware of the administrative check, arrest, or assault.

Tra reported that he only asked Thanh a few questions at the police station and did not attack him, Nhi continued.

Answering a question about the delayed injury evaluation, Lieutenant Colonel Ho Huyet Thanh, deputy chief of the Phu Hoa Police Department, explained that officers needed time to verify the case.

“That such assessment was conducted early or late did not affect the result as it was also based on the medical records provided by those infirmaries where the patient was treated,” the police official elaborated.

According to Nguyen Thai Hoc, an official at the Phu Yen Party Committee, several officials have been charged with the supervision of the investigation into the case.

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