Several bruises were found on the body of a schoolboy who was suspected to have stolen a teacher’s phone after he was taken to a police station in southern Vietnam for questioning over the crime this week.
Nguyen Duc Dong, 37, on Saturday reported several injuries on his son’s body, which he believed had been caused by police officers in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, about 120km from Ho Chi Minh City.
Large patches of bruise could be seen on the back of the boy’s thighs, while his earlobes were filled with fingernail marks.
According to Dong, his son T., who is in fourth grade, had sustained these injuries after he was taken on Friday morning to a police station in Tan Lam Commune, Xuyen Moc District in the province for questioning over his purported theft of a teacher’s phone.
Things started on Wednesday afternoon, when H., a teacher at T.’s elementary school, found that her ASUS phone had gone missing.
The next day, H. asked her colleague Dao Xuan Quy, the school’s student supervisor, to publicize that over the loudspeaker, but Quy was too occupied to follow the request.
After being told by her students that they “saw T. taking the phone,” H. reported the tip-off to Quy, who called T. to his office on Friday morning to ask him about the issue.
According to Quy, T. confessed to the crime at first before changing his mind and denying having anything to do with the missing phone.
Meanwhile, T. said it was Quy who had pressured him into writing a report confessing to the crime.
Quy denied the accusation, saying he had only asked T. to write down what the boy had said to him.
At around 9:00 am the same morning, two police officers, notified of the incident by Quy, came to the school to escort T. to a police station for further questioning.
According to T., two officers at the station had taken turns to beat him with a wooden stick until it broke, and had even pinched and drilled into the boy’s earlobes with a pen held between two fingers.
“When I took my son’s pants off, I was just overwhelmed by tears upon seeing the bruises on his thighs,” Dong recalled in tears.
However, Chief of Tan Lam Commune Police Nguyen Cong Xuan denied any wrongdoing by his men in an interview with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, saying the bruises on T.’s legs had been the result of beatings by the boy’s grandfather and father, rather than by the police officers.
T.’s grandfather said he had indeed hit the boy in the bottom a few times with a thin plastic ruler after learning about the theft, while T.’s father said he had only given the boy a slap as a lesson.
The father insisted that the bruises could not have been caused by him or T.’s grandfather.
Dong added that the police chief had called the family several times on Saturday morning to ask about T.’s health while “admitting his faults.”