5 inmates face charges after riot in southern Vietnam prison

TN News

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Five inmates involved in a prison brawl last month in Dong Nai Province's Xuan Loc District face charges of "resisting on-duty officials," Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported Thursday.

Pham Van Tri, 35, Pham Ngoc Huong, 29, Nguyen Van Tan, 22, Le Quoc Thanh, and Cao Ngoc Re played "central" roles in a riot at Xuan Loc Prison, which reportedly started over a conflict in a soccer match between inmates on June 30.

After the fracas started in the match, they persuaded other prisoners to join in, damaging the kitchen and fences.

They also ignored orders from officers to stop.

Colonel Ho Phi Thang, the prison chief, said during the match, Tri and Huong, who are respectively serving 14-year sentences for fraud and robbery, began arguing over a call by the referee.

When the argument turned physical, players from both teams, around 20 of them, became involved, and what had been a fight between the two turned into an all-out brawl.

Despite officers' orders, they continued to fight, chasing one another and accidentally bringing down the fences and freeing several other inmates.

At this point some 50 people were involved.

Media reports said Tri and Huong screamed and threw rocks at officers, and Tan, in for nine years for robbery, attacked First Lieutenant Nguyen Van Tuan with a rock and club, injuring him slightly.

Thang, who was reported by some newspapers as being taken hostage by some of the inmates, denied this, saying he had offered to talk to them alone because the guards were unable to approach them.

After he explained to the prisoners that their actions were wrong, many of them agreed to return to their cells, though some held out, he said.

He also rejected rumors that had gone viral that the riot was politically motivated and organized by other prisoners to protest against the prison's "inhumane treatment."

The disturbance was eventually quelled with the help of Major General Ho Thanh Dinh, a senior official at the Ministry of Public Security, at around 2:45 p.m, six hours after it began.

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