A member of a voluntary anti-crime club in the southern province of Binh Duong was slashed to critical injury Monday, raising speculations that he was attacked by criminals he once helped police arrest.
Nguyen Dang Tien was attacked by four men wearing masks when he was preparing to open his bread shop at his house in Di An Town at around 4.30 a.m., Tien's wife, Nguyen Thi Van, told Thanh Nien.
They came on two motorbikes and kept slashing Tien, she said, adding that while struggling against the attackers, he recognized one of them was Tuan "the Dog," a locally infamous gangster.
After the attackers left, Tien was rushed to the hospital with many of his limb tendons damaged.
Members of the voluntary club based in Di An said after they helped police bust a group of four people stealing motorbikes on Friday, Vu Duc Tuan, or Tuan the dog, threatened them.
"Tuan even said that any of his gang members, if found related to stealing and fighting cases in Binh Duong, Bien Hoa Town (Dong Nai province) and Thu Duc (in Ho Chi Minh City), would be protected and released," a member who wished to stay unnamed said.
In fact, the four people were released later due to unknown reasons. According to the club's members, they then proposed to local police that they should protect them.
They also said before the attack, they found another six people at several boarding houses on Binh Duong No.3 street with suspicions of being involved in motorbike thefts.
Following the club's information, police found eight stolen motorbike plates, and at least four driver's licenses. But, once again, they were released.
In the meantime, Tran Nhut Hieu, deputy chief of Di An Town's police division, told the press in a meeting later that day that they released the six suspects due to a lack of evidence.
He said while one of the plates was identified as stolen, the people said they moved into boarding houses just four months ago, so they had no idea about the plates.
"We released them, but it doesn't mean that we won't investigate and collect evidence to deal with them," Hieu was quoted as saying in Tuoi Tre.
Currently the subjects are at their boarding houses with close observation by police, he added.
Asked about the case on Friday why four suspects were freed, Hieu said he has ordered his subordinates to clarify it.
According to Hieu, police are preparing to launch a investigation into the attack on Tien and he will re-check measures to protect Tien and his peers.
In response to suspicions that Tuan's gang is covered up by police, the official said it's probable that there were some shortcoming in procedures, "but I confirm that the town's police never compromise with criminals."
Meanwhile, Cao Minh Nhan, deputy chief of the Ministry of Public Security's Anti-crime Police General Department, said he has ordered local police to deal with the case "determinedly, " according to the news source.