A court in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap Tuesday handed down prison sentences to two former police officers for fatally torturing a suspected motorbike thief in 2012.
Major Huynh Ngoc Tong, 41, former deputy chief investigator of the Cao Lanh Town police, got 18 months for “applying corporal punishment” during an investigation.
Former Second-Lieutenant Pham Xuan Binh, 31, got 11 months and 11 days for the same charge, the time he had spent in custody.
Nguyen Tuan Thanh, 30, was arrested on November 16, 2012 for allegedly stealing motorbikes.
Tong and Binh questioned Thanh, who reportedly confessed to stealing six motorbikes.
But the following day, an officer found Thanh unconscious in his cell. The man was declared dead on arrival when taken to the Dong Thap General Hospital in the province's capital town of Cao Lanh.
An autopsy found Thanh had died to “unrecoverable acute circulatory failure” due to multiple injuries in his body.
According to prosecutors, Binh and Tong admitted to beating Thanh with their hands, feet and batons and that other police officers also joined in the beating. Investigators found no evidence linking any other officer to the case.
At the trial the two accused rejected the charges against them, saying they did not hit Thanh and rejecting their own statements earlier.
Binh claimed an investigator had tricked him into admitting to beating Thanh.
"The investigator said my wife was pregnant, my parents are old and I should follow their instructions. They promised to drop the case and only impose a fine.”
But prosecutors decided that the duo had indeed hit Thanh.
The court found them guilty nevertheless but said it was lenient because Binh and Tong had good records and their families had made great contributions to the country’s freedom.