Six senior officers in the Mekong Delta’s Soc Trang Province were demoted and 19 others censured for the wrongful detention of seven innocent people during a murder investigation.
Phan Huu Thuy, spokesman of the Soc Trang Police, said the department's director was told that the detentions were unjust and ordered the agency to audit its investigatory process.
Thuy said the investigation team relied too much on eyewitness statements without matching them against proper evidence.
Forensic tests and crime scene investigations were not thorough enough, while the senior officers assigned to the investigation did little but sign off on findings presented to them by their subordinates.
Six local men were detained on murder charge for the death of a local xe om (motorbike taxi) and one women was held for seven months on charges of aiding and abetting a known criminal.
They were released in February as their charges against them were suspended last month after a teenage girl gave herself up in December and helped the police arrest her lesbian lover.
Le Thi My Duyen, 13, confessed to police that she and 14-year-old Nguyen Kim Xuyen, fled to Ho Chi Minh City after they stabbed the driver to death on an empty road during a robbery.
Once in Ho Chi MInh City, Xuyen began a relationship with another girl, prompting a jealous Duyen to turn them both in, hoping that they'd be detained together.
Police recovered the knife the girls used to kill the driver from a pond.
The innocent detainees were all the driver's regular customers; some had been seen arguing with him prior to his death.
Some of those wrongfully detained told Thanh Nien that they were beaten and forced to confess by the police.
Thuy said the team was eager to wrap up the case, leading to “hasty" detentions.
Colonel Nguyen Viet Thanh, who led the investigation as chief officer of the social order crime unit, was demoted to deputy chief, and stripped of his rank as "Senior Investigator" as well as the unit's Communist Party chief and the deputy head of the provincial investigative squad.
His former deputy, Colonel Nguyen Hoang Phu, was also stripped of his title as a "mid-level investigator," as well as his position as deputy chief and deputy head of the provincial investigative squad.
He was also removed from the unit’s Communist Party cell.
Major Nguyen Hoang Quan, the unit's team leader in charge of murder and assault investigations, was downgraded to deputy team leader and removed from its Communist Part organization.
Captain Lam Van Ket was downgraded from deputy team leader to "member" and Captain To Huy Thong, a team member, was demoted to the rank of First Lieutenant.
Captain Tran Hoang Huy, head of the social order crime team of Tran De District police, was reduced to the position of deputy head.
Several colonels were among the censured officers, as well as General Thai Van Doi, head of the Soc Trang police investigative team.
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