Bad boys

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An off-duty policeman in the Mekong Delta allegedly attacked his taxi driver after the man refused to run a red light.

At 7:30 p.m. on Sunday (March 20), Do Quoc Thai picked up a drunk passenger from a restaurant in Can Tho City's Ninh Kieu District.

The Mai Linh driver said that the passenger removed his belt and began whipping him after he refused to simply drive through a red light.

When uniformed traffic officers arrived at the scene, they found that the driver had suffered injuries to his back, head and right arm.

The two men were taken to the Cua O Traffic Police Station where the intoxicated passenger allegedly threatened to shoot the officer who had been assigned to handle the case.

The police say they contacted the passenger's family and asked that they take him home because he was too drunk to issue a confession.

A police official at the station confirmed to Thanh Nien that the drunk passenger was Major

Bui Minh Thang, deputy chief

of Hau Giang Province Police Department's Road and Railway Traffic Police Division. Thang is the son of Colonel Bui Hoang Bao, director of the Hau Giang Police Department.

Cai Rang District police say that the matter remains under investigation.

After undergoing an examination of his injuries at the Can Tho General Hospital, Thai was allowed to return home in Can Tho's Binh Thuy District where he is recovering.

The Can Tho assault seems relatively mild when compared to a recent spate of police brutality cases that have gripped the nation.

Hanoi authorities have pledged to investigate "deliberate assault" charges against a former lieutenant-colonel.

The incident allegedly occurred at the Giap Bat Bus Station on February 28.

According to official accounts of the events, 53-year-old Trinh Xuan Tung took off his helmet while riding a xe om (motorbike taxi) toward the bus station to make a telephone call.

Lieutenant-colonel Nguyen Van Ninh and some security men accosted him and a scuffle ensued.

Tung was arrested and taken to a nearby police station. Later that day, he was admitted to Bach Mai Hospital with severe injuries to his neck. Doctors there transferred him to Viet Duc Hospital where he died on March 8.

Lieutenant-colonel Ninh has been suspended pending further investigations.

News of the death came on the heels of the sentencing of Second Lieutenant Nguyen The Nghiep, 26, to seven years in prison for "causing wrongful death in the commission of his official duties."

In a widely publicized case, Nghiep was found guilty of killing a young man who had been pulled over for driving without a helmet on.

A fatal blow dealt to the boy during his interrogation caused his family to bring the boy's casket to the office of the Bac Giang Province's People's Committee, the local government.

A small riot ensued.

Ten people were arrested and accused of "causing public disturbance" and "opposing government agents."

On March 16, the Bac Giang People's Court sentenced one of the ten, Le Quoc Huy, to four years in jail. The other nine people were sentenced between 24 to 36 months, including six on probation.

According to the verdict, more than 20 policemen suffered injuries during the incident. Eight police vehicles and some furniture in the People's Committee office were also vandalized.

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