Do Van Sau (right), uncle of Do Van Binh, 18, both of Quang Nam Province recalled traveling to Da Nang to retrieve Sau's body after police announced he'd hung himself in his cell
Da Nang Police released the body of a teenage suspect to his uncle, last week, after claiming the boy had hung himself in his cell.
Do Van Binh, 18, turned himself in to the Hoa Vang District Police in April for his alleged involvement in the abduction and assault of two suspected motorbike thieves.
Colonel Tran Phuoc Huong, spokesman for the Da Nang Police, said the officers guarding Binh went out for some air on Monday afternoon, and when they came back and summoned Binh to dinner, he didn’t respond.
The officers say they found Binh hanging from a rope.
Huong said Binh and the officers had been cooperating well on the investigation.
Do Van Sau, Binh’s 52-year-old uncle who came to retrieve the body, said he saw Binh hanging next to the door, from a rope fashioned out of a curtain.
His feet dangled roughly one span from the ground, Sau said.
He said he questioned officers at the site after he noticed bruises on the tips his nephew's fingers and the lower half of his body, but he was told were the results of his hanging.
Police are conducting an autopsy and investigating further.
Hoa Vang District Police visited Binh's last week to deliver VND35 million (US$1,660). They left the money with the family, though they have refused to accept it.
Binh was recruited into a vigilante posse with nine other youths after Vo Van Chung, a 48-year-old local, lost his motorbike in December.
The group kidnapped and beat a 16-year-old suspected of the crime and forced the boy to confess and reveal his 15-year-old accomplice, whom they also beat and threatened to drown.
Stories of suspects dying in police custody have become a regular occurrence in Vietnam; police brutality has factored into a number of those cases.
Three police officers in the southern province of Phu Yen were sent to jail during a trial early this month for torturing a suspect to death in 2012.
In another high-profile case, Nguyen Thanh Chan of the northern province of Bac Giang served ten years of a life sentence for a wrongful murder charge in 2003. Following his exoneration and release, he claimed police had tortured and threatened him with death to force him to confess.
Chan began seeking compensation and an investigation against the accused officers, after his name was officially cleared in January.
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