2 Vietnamese police officers suspended for arrest of whistleblower

By Le Lam, Thanh Nien News

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Nguyen Thi Anh Ngoc who had exposed illegal sand mining in Dong Nai Province. Photo: Le Lam Nguyen Thi Anh Ngoc who had exposed illegal sand mining in Dong Nai Province. Photo: Le Lam


Police in the southern province of Dong Nai have suspended two officers involved in the unlawful arrest of a woman who had exposed illegal sand mining activities.
Truong Quoc Hieu, deputy police chief of Nhon Trach District and Nguyen Van Son, a senior investigator, were suspended pending review of their misconduct.
Dong Nai’s Internal Affairs Committee on Thursday ordered Nhon Trach’s Party unit to investigate and punish those involved in the arrest of Nguyen Thi Anh Ngoc.
Last September, Ngoc, 34, who owned a shrimp farm on Thi Vai River in the district, repeatedly reported to local police about the rampant illegal sand mining from the river. Police allegedly did not take any action.
On September 5, she called the police again informing that a company was extracting sand on the river. Three hours later, some officers came to the site.
The officers promised to file a report but only after pulling ashore some of the sand-transporting boats.
Ngoc reportedly asked them to make the report right away with her as a witness, fearing the case could be ignored again.
The police said Ngoc was overacting and that it was not her responsibility. Ngoc reportedly screamed and yelled at the police.
On February 26 and 27, four rangers of Long Thanh Forest’s Management Board in Nhon Trach District came to Ngoc’s shrimp farm. They damaged her hut, claiming it was built illegally.
Ngoc filed a complaint to local police, accusing the rangers of attacking her after she exposed the illegal sand mining.
On April 19, local police summoned her for questioning. Soon after she came, she was arrested and taken to Nhon Trach District's police station.
Nhon Trach police said she would be detained for “resisting officers on duty."
Ngoc was detained for four days.
On April 23, she was released. Dong Nai police apologized to her and said they had dropped the case against her. 
This all came after Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the police to review the case, following media reports that the whistle-blower was unfairly arrested. 
In an unexpected move, several days after her release, Nhon Trach police said they will still fine Ngoc VND2.5 million (US$112) for "resisting officers."
Ngoc did not agree to pay the fine. The police then dropped it.

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