Central Vietnam cops accused of beating teen during interrogation

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A family in central Vietnam has accused local police of beating their son while detaining him without a guardian present, which is illegal.

Huynh Viet Thang, a 17-year-old student in Quang Nam Province, said he was summoned by commune police seeking to interrogate him about a fight he had gotten into with one of his friends the week before.

The police went to Thang's school and asked the principal to release Thang to them, without notifying his parents.

According to Vietnamese law, a guardian must be present in order for police to question a minor.  Thang will turn 18 in July.

Thang alleges that while in custody, the commune police beat him, repeatedly punching him the face, head and abdomen.

Test results from a local hospital on February 9 showed that Thang received multiple injuries to his chest, stomach, lower back and pelvis. Doctors also determined there was excessive fluid in his kidneys.

Thang's father Huynh Ba Duc said his family knew nothing about the case until few days afterward.

"He was scared and hid it from us. I only learned of it when his teacher told me later about the police's summon."

Ho Van Lieu, the school principle, admitted his mistake in allowing the police take Thang away without a guardian present.

"I was overconfident and do not quite know the laws," Lieu said.

Ngo Quang Thang, deputy head of the commune police, who escorted the student to the police station, denied that the teen had been beaten during the interrogation.

The police officer also said that it was not necessary to have a guardian along because Thang is "nearly" 18.

His superiors say they are investigating Thang's allegations.

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