Cop has finger bitten off by detainee in southern Vietnam

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A Mekong Delta resident who bit off part of a policeman's finger says he did so because the officer was thrusting his fingers into his mouth, which was really painful.

Nguyen Van Quoc, a day-laborer at the Tan Lap Commune in Tan Thanh District, Long An Province also said he was beaten by the officers while he was being detained at the communal police station on April 10.

He said he came to the station to give his younger brother, 35-year-old Nguyen Van Tan, a water bottle. Tan was being held due to an earlier incident in which he had drunkenly quarreled with a neighbor over a minor traffic collision.

In a written statement, Tan said he was beaten while handcuffed at the station by Lieutenant Chau Van Tuyen, the commune vice chief police, and Ha Nhut Tu, another policeman. 

Quoc said he too was beaten when he came to visit Tan at the station.

"Tuyen [the lieutenant] asked me to enter a room and sit down. But he suddenly locked the door and kicked me. I tried to run out but Tu kicked me and handcuffed me before the two continued to beat me," Quoc said.

"When I shouted, Tuyen thrust his fingers into my throat. It was so painful and I bit down strongly and severed a section of his finger," he said, adding that he was only released later in the day when the district police came.

On April 18, Thanh Nien came to the Tan Thanh Police Division but  Lieutenant Colonel Vo Quoc Thanh of the agency refused to comment.

On the same day, Col. Pham Huu Chau, deputy director of Long An Police Department said he had only been made aware of the case through a report by the Tan Thanh Police.

According to the report, the commune police followed proper procedures when they "invited" Nguyen Van Tan to the station for having caused a public nuisance.

It said although Quoc had not been involved in Tan's case. He attacked the police and then slandered them with accusations of abuse, it added.

Another officer with the provincial Police Department, who was not identified, said the district police had verified the report.

Asked whether the commune police officer who had his finger bitten off had been drunk, the officer said: "There was biting and there was drinking. It's normal and doesn't matter. It's because this guy [Quoc] was unruly."

Thanh Nien checked with Tan Thanh General Hospital and found that Tuyen, the policeman, was admitted on April 10 with a part of his left index finger severed due to a bite.

The document also showed Tuyen's blood alcohol content as having been 304 mg/dl, almost three times the permissible level.

The hospital showed Tan's blood alcohol content as having been slightly higher the permissible level. He sustained injuries to his cheeks, lips and chest.

Meanwhile, Quoc was hospitalized with injuries to his head and body.

Both Tan and Quoc have been released from police custody.

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