A man who is presumed to be the biological father of an abused three-year-old girl appeared on Monday at a hospital in the southern province of Binh Duong to take her home.
The battered toddler, Tran Thi Kim Ngan, made national headlines after neighbors rescued her from her biological mother and a man described as her lover.
Tran Van To, 31, presented certified photocopies of his identification card, his family book, and Ngan's birth certificate to officials at Binh Duong General Hospital and local police. The documents suggested that Ngan, born in February 2011, is his daughter and his wife is Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang.
Binh Duong authorities said they would verify these documents and conclude whether To is really Ngan's father.
Ngan was brought to hospital on Friday (September 12) afternoon by neighbors seeking treatment for multiple injuries allegedly inflicted by Trang, 26, and Do Trong Minh, 27, in a rented room in Binh An Ward in Binh Duong's Thu Dau Mot Town.
During his interrogation by Binh Duong police, Do Trong Minh claimed that he is Ngan's biological father and beat her only "to make his naughty and disobedient daughter behave." Photo: Do Truong
Local police arrested Trang and Minh the next day and placed them under investigation for aggravated battery which is punishable by jail terms of up to 15 years under Vietnam's Penal Code.
During questioning, the pair told the police that the child was their biological daughter, though they failed to present any evidence to prove their claim.
They also claimed that the girl’s name was Do Thi Kim Ngan, with the last name “Do” being taken from Minh’s last name.
Minh and Trang said that they have lived together as common-law husband and wife since 2010 and haven't sought a birth certificate for Ngan since Trang gave birth to the girl a year after their relationship began.
When To arrived at the Binh Duong hospital at noon on Monday, Thanh Nien witnessed Ngan rushing into his arms; both cried.
Ngan said To is her biological father.
To said he learned that Ngan had been tortured and hospitalized through newspaper accounts he read on Monday morning.
“I was deeply hurt to learn of Ngan’s situation and very shocked to hear that Trang, my wife and my daughter’s mother, brutally beat our child like that. Truly, I can’t imagine that,” He told Thanh Nien.
Nguyen Thi Thuy Trang, Ngan's mother, was arrested along with Minh and placed under investigation for charges of aggravated battery. Photo: Do Truong
To said he and Trang married ten years ago and lived together in his hometown in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang.
The couple had two children, he said.
In late 2012, Trang took Ngan to Dong Nai Province (around 260 kilometers from Soc Trang) and moved in with her mother, said To.
Ngan's brother, who is now eight years old, has been living with his father since then, To said.
To said he went to his mother-in-law's house many times, asking to be a part of his daughter's life, but Trang and her family refused. To also moved to Dong Nai where he now works as a day laborer.
“The last time I saw my daughter was in January of this year," he said. "Then, Trang took her away--I didn’t know where.”
“This time, I will take my daughter to my home to raise her. I will also file for a divorce from Trang,” he said.
Trang and Minh admitted to the police that they often used a bamboo stick, roughly 60 cm long, to beat Ngan, claiming they only wanted to “make our naughty and disobedient daughter behave".
Trang confessed to whipping Ngan’s buttock and hands with the stick on Wednesday night for playing with a gas stove.
Minh later joined the beating, punching and hitting Ngan’s head and face, according to police documents.
The couple then ordered the girl to kneel on the floor for roughly four hours before letting her go to bed at midnight.
Neighbors spotted the girl lying on the floor with a swollen face and bruised eyes on Friday afternoon.
The group said Minh attempted to prevent them from rushing Ngan to the hospital, forcing some to subdue him while others did so.
The concerned neighbors said Minh and Trang rented the room in Binh An Ward around six months ago.
A married couple, Nguyen Duy Hung, 33, and Tran Thi Que Nhan, 22, who were among the group that took Ngan to the hospital, volunteered to care for the child.
Doctors at Binh Duong General Hospital said Ngan was unconscious and very weak on arrival. But the girl is recovering well.
“Ngan suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage [bleeding in the area between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain] and a hematoma beneath the facial skin,” said Nguyen Minh Khoi, head of the hospital’s neurosurgery department.
By Tuesday afternoon, good samaritans had donated more than VND70 million (US$3,300) to Ngan.
"This sum is being held by officials at Binh Duong General Hospital and will be deposited into an account in Ngan's name that is set to be opened soon," said Tran Thi Thanh Thuy, chairwoman of Binh An Ward's People's Committee.