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In Vietnam, man arrested for punching policeman who asked him to wear face mask

Tuesday, April 14, 2020, 10:34 GMT+7
In Vietnam, man arrested for punching policeman who asked him to wear face mask
Nguyen Van Hai (right) is pictured at the police station of Cai Khe Ward in Ninh Kieu District, Can Tho City, April 11, 2020. Photo: Phan Tai / Tuoi Tre

A man has been arrested in Can Tho City, located in southern Vietnam, for attacking a police officer who told him to wear a face mask as per regulations on novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) prevention and control.

Nguyen Van Hai, 49, of Truong Long Commune in Phong Dien District, Can Tho, allegedly assaulted a police officer near Song Hau Park in downtown Ninh Kieu District at around 5:50 pm on Saturday last week.

The officer was part of a team tasked with making sure city residents were practicing social distancing for COVID-19 prevention and control as per a prime minister directive.

The team found the man intoxicated, topless, and not wearing a face mask at a restaurant near the downtown park.

They asked Hai to put on a face mask as per regulations making it mandatory for all citizens to wear one while outdoors or at crowded places.

People without face masks at public places face fines from VND100,000 (US$4) to VND300,000 (12).

Instead of complying with the request, the man rounded on the team, asking in a confronting tone, “So how much will I be fined for not wearing a face mask?”

When the officers told him that he would be fined VND300,000 for not wearing one, the man responded, “VND300,000 is nothing to me.”

Hai’s wife, who was also at the scene, tried to calm him down but could not stop him from verbally abusing the officers.

He even threw punches at Bui Phuoc Thanh, one of the police officers.

The other officers pinned Hai down and took the man to the Cai Khe Ward police station, where he admitted that he had been drinking with his friends at a friend’s house earlier the same day.

He was walking home when the patrolling team approached him.

Police in Ninh Kieu District on Monday morning started legal proceedings against Hai and arrested him for “resisting officers performing duties.”

The crime carries a jail term of between six months and three years.

A court in the northern province of Quang Ninh on Friday last week sentenced a local man to nine months behind bars for the same charge after he had attacked officials at a COVID-19 control post.

The case marked the first time a person had been brought to trial and convicted for resisting officials on duty related to COVID-19 prevention and control in Vietnam.

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