Family of Nguyen Van Tinh, who died in police custody last month, mourn at his funeral in the central province of Ha Tinh. Photo: Nguyen Dung
Police in the central province of Ha Tinh said Saturday that they have launched a criminal investigation against three local officers for their involvement in the death of a man wrongfully detained last month.
One of them, Bui Ngoc Son, has been taken into custody, while Nguyen Van Thanh and Cao Ngoc Thao are banned from leaving their residences, said Nguyen Phi Hai, deputy chief of Ky Anh District’s police division.
They are all being investigated on charges of illegally detaining people, according to Hai.
Phan Ke Hien, spokesman of Ha Tinh’s police department, said when the officers raided the house of Nguyen Van Canh, 43, on February 28, they caught him and his neighbor Nguyen Van Tinh, 39, gambling, with a total bet value of VND72,000.
Under Vietnam’s laws, gambling with such amount of bet money is punishable by administrative fines, Hien said.
However, the officers handcuffed the men and took them into custody, which was illegal, he said.
After being in police custody for five hours, Tinh was rushed to a local health clinic. He died one hour later, when being transferred to a larger hospital.
Hien quoted autopsy results as saying that the man died from brain bleeding and swelling, but the symptoms were not caused by external forces.
“There are many possible causes for the victim’s brain bleeding and death. Relevant agencies are still investigating the case,” he said.
Speaking to Thanh Nien previously, Tran Khanh Dung, head of the police station where the men were detained, said they took Tinh to the hospital as he did not look well.
He had showed signs of exhaustion before, Dung said, adding that they believed it was because he had been drinking.
Ha Tinh police initially told the press that during the raid, Tinh and Canh were drunk, and that they resisted the officers, even yelling at them.
A recent report by the Ministry of Public Security showed that 226 detainees died around the country between October 2011 and September 2014, with a majority of deaths caused by suicide and natural causes.
However, at a meeting on Thursday, lawmakers cast doubt on the report, urging the government to provide further details on the causes.
They also criticized police for excessively using detention, saying that the practice could easily lead to wrongful conviction.