Ex-cop probed for helping drug addict escape Vietnam rehab

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A security guard at a rehab center in the central province of Binh Thuan shows the room that drug addict Nguyen Ngoc Long escaped from on December 9 last year.  / PHOTO COURTESY OF NGUOI LAO DONG NEWSPAPER

Police in the central province of Binh Thuan have placed a former police officer under investigation for allegedly hatching a plan to free a drug addict from a local rehabilitation center last month.

A senior official with Ham Thuan Bac District's police division told Thanh Nien on Wednesday that Bui Thu Huong Giang, 36, faces charges of "resisting people on public duty" for helping Nguyen Ngoc Long, 37, flee the district's rehab center.

She is now free during the investigation, said the official, who wished to stay unnamed.

Another person whose identify was not revealed and who is still at large faces the same charges, he added.

Giang, who is Long's girlfriend, once worked for the provincial police department's immigration management division, but was sacked for being involved with drugs.

On December 9, four people broke into the rehab center by cutting open its lock. They broke open Long's room and took him away.

Security guards tried to stop them, but the group attacked them with knives, injuring one.

After being wanted by Binh Thuan police for 10 days, Long turned himself in.

It was Long's third escape from the same center.

On December 4, he scaled the center's gate to run away with another two drug addicts. They used weapons thrown over the walls by accomplices to keep the security guards at bay, and Long assaulted one of the guards who tried to stop him.

He was arrested three days later while using drugs.

Other escaped addicts were also apprehended.

Long was first brought to the center under a compulsory program at the end of 2012, but he soon escaped by digging a hole in a wall. He was seized again in November last year.

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In Vietnam, hundreds of drug addicts escape from rehab centers around the country every year.

Under Vietnamese laws, drug addicts have to take on compulsory rehab programs if they fail to voluntarily register for one either at home or at official centers.

Drug use is subjected to fines from VND500,000-VND1 million (US$23.5-47).

Repeat violations, after compulsory rehabilitation, are subject to jail terms of between three months and two years.

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