A police motorbike burned during mob violence in the central province of Binh Thuan on November 14, 2013. Local prosecutors have filed charges against six people. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre
Prosecutors in the central province of Binh Thuan have charged six people with vandalism for allegedly destroying two police vehicles last year.
A motorbike and car were damaged during violence sparked by a police assault on Ho Ngoc Khoa, 21, who drunk drove through two police checkpoints with two girls on his bike, according to an indictment issued this week by the provincial prosecutors' office.
The indictment, however, did not identify which officers participated in the beating, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported Thursday.
On November 14, after a party, Khoa decided to take Le Thi No, 21, and Nguyen Thi Nhat Mi, 17, to a nearby café on his motorbike.
None of them were wearing helmets, so when they passed a checkpoint manned by a team of Tanh Linh District traffic cops, they were ordered to pull over.
Khoa, whom prosecutors say was drunk at the time, did not follow orders and kept on driving.
He continued to ignore police directives as he drove through another checkpoint, where four officers on two motorbikes chased after him.
When Khoa entered Gia An Commune, he crashed and passed out, prosecutors said, blaming his injuries on drunkenness and reckless driving.
After the officers caught up with Khoa, one of them hit him with a club, according to prosecutors.
Dinh Van Le, 49, a local resident, summoned his neighbors, claiming that police caused Khoa’s accident and beat him.
Locals rushed to the site, and some began verbally abusing the officers and threatening them.
The officers then fled the scene on foot.
Three other officers arrived by car hoping to convince the crowd to let them bring Khoa to a local health clinic for treatment, but the crowd refused, and continued verbally abusing the officers, according to the indictment.
People blocked the car, and some of them urged others to destroy the vehicle; the crowd then used rocks to smash its windows and lights.
Le’s sons, Dinh Van Thang, 27, and Dinh Van My, 22, urged people to destroy a police motorbike left at the scene. Le was the man who mobilized his neighbors.
Le Duc Thang, 20, pulled the bike into a ditch before some 20 people, including Phan Dinh Tam, 18, Tran Ngoc Thuong, 17, and Mieu Chi Vu, 17, began jumping up and down on the vehicle and smashing it with stones.
An unidentified member of the crowd opened the bike’s fuel tank and others threw lit cigarettes inside. The vehicle didn't catch fire until a man, also unidentified, lit a VND1,000 bill and threw it into the open fuel tank.
The bike burned to cinders, despite police efforts to extinguish the flames, prosecutors said.
The damages were estimated at nearly VND40 million (US$1,872).
Van Thang, Duc Thang, My, Tam, Thuong, and Vu face vandalism charges, according to the indictment.
Prosecutors said during the melee, Nguyen Van Nam, 43, who lived near the site, kidnapped officer Nguyen Ngoc Tuan as he attempted to flee the scene with his colleagues.
Nam kept Tuan at his house and demanded that he write an account of how the police had caused Khoa's accident and beat him unnecessarily.
The officer was kept captive for nearly half an hour by a crowd of residents until local authorities arrived and convinced them to let Nam go.
Police did not press any criminal charges against Nam.
In the meantime, Khoa suffered minor injuries and has not filed a complaint against police, the newspaper reported.
The condition of the women who accompanied him that day remains unknown.
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