Police in the southern Vietnamese province of Ca Mau are investigating a married couple for allegedly torturing a 14-year-old boy for over a year.
The boy was hospitalized Thursday with multiple injuries.
Huynh Hoang Giang, 30, from Dam Doi District, was taken into custody, while his wife, 33-year-old Ma Ngoc Thom, was temporarily free given that her child is younger than two years old, Dam Doi police said.
Initial investigation showed that Nguyen Hao Anh had worked for Giang and Thom, who run a shrimp farm in Phu Hiep Hamlet, for some 20 months and had been abused since early last year, said police officer Vo Van Chac.
However, local people did not learn of the couple's abusive acts until recently, Chac said.
"Local people know about it because Giang and his wife recently abused Anh more openly," he added.
People in Phu Hiep Hamlet said Giang and Thom took turns torturing Anh 3-4 times a day, but they didn't dare to alarm local authorities until Tuesday when they found Anh beaten more severely than usual.
Doan Minh Chanh, deputy head of Dam Doi District police, said they then launched an investigation and took Anh to Dam Doi General Hospital for examinations.
Several of the boy's many injuries had been infected, Doctor Ho Thanh Phong said.
Anh told police that over the past six months he was tortured continuously: he was beaten with sticks and rods, hot water was poured all over his body, and his genitals were beaten with a hot iron rod.
"Uncle [Giang] beat me whenever I worked slowly. When he wasn't happy, he would also beat me," the boy told Thanh Nien.
Thom, meanwhile, often asked him to clean the floor with a rope tied around his neck, and would pull the rope, making him fall down whenever he cleaned slowly, Anh said.
Their punishments included using pincers to pull out his teeth, and tying him up under the sun, according to the boy.
"But what I was most afraid of was being splashed with shrimp tank cleaning liquid after being beaten, because it made my wounds more painful."
Asked why he didn't run away or tell other people, Anh said he didn't dare to do so because "uncle and aunt [Giang and Thom] said my mother owed them money, so I tried to work to pay the debt off.
"Uncle said if I run away, he would have gangsters punish me, so I didn't dare to go."
Pham Thi Thoa, Anh's mother, said she rarely visited her son because she couldn't afford the fares for the long trip from Cai Nuoc District to Dam Doi District.
Truong Linh Phuong, vice chairwoman of Dam Doi People's Committee, said they would discuss the possibility of sending Anh to a local childcare center if his family agreed they couldn't raise him.
But Anh's grandmother, Dang Thi Dep, said she would take care of the boy after he is discharged.