15 arrested, two wanted in Vietnam's in-custody death scandal

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Police in the southern province of Binh Duong have arrested 15 people for allegedly stealing VND1.5 billion (US$72,184) worth of material from a Korean-owned tire factory.

The arrestees included security guards and staff in charge of storage of Kumho Tire Factory in Ben Cat District, a source told Thanh Nien, adding that currently local police were also hunting two other factory employees. 

Police said that over years the group has stolen 371 car tires and 14,470 kilograms of latex from the factory's storage and then sent them out for sale.

The case first made headlines when factory worker Nguyen Cong Nhut was found dead on April 25 at Ben Cat District police station when he was in custody for alleged involvement in the crimes.

Police claimed that Nhut had volunteered to stay in custody and later committed suicide by hanging himself from a cell phone charger. In a suicide note allegedly written by Nhut, he admitted to the theft.

But, his family refused to accept the police's account of the death and have called for an independent investigation into the incident.

No evidence linking Nhut to the case in question has been presented. 

According to Nguyen Thi Thanh Tuyen, Nhut's wife, she has not received an autopsy report on Nhut's death..

Tuyen previously claimed that police major Nguyen Thanh Phu of Ben Cat District, who was part of an investigation team assigned to the Kumho theft, had told her to sleep with him and sell her land if she wanted to save Nhut.

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On May 19, Phu was demoted from major to captain after admitting to having called Tuyen, but he claimed that he was just "joking" when he offered to dismiss Nhut if she slept with him.

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