Hanoi cops suspended after death in custody

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Seven Hanoi police officers have been suspended after it was found last Thursday that a man was died of "heavy brain injuries" one day after he was called to the police office.

Investigators on Thursday said Nguyen Quoc Bao, 33, was taken to the Hai Ba Trung District police station on January 21 after police found him carrying a knife, a pair of scissors and a note with numbers for de - an illegal game based on the state lottery, that allows players to bet any amount they want on the last two or three digits of the winning number to win up to 80 times the original wager.

But the police had repeatedly refused to answer questions about why they had detained Bao from around 5:30 p.m. that day.

"My family had many times asked the police why they had summoned my son, where he died and why his body had so many scratches and bruises," Bao's father Phuc was quoted by local newswire Vnexpress as saying Monday.

Phuc said they received vague responses like "the case is under investigation."

Bao left home in the evening of January 21 to buy some toys for his 2-year-old son and didn't come back that night, Phuc said.

The next afternoon, Hai Ba Trung District police informed him that his son had died and told him to take the body home from Thanh Nhan Hospital.

Results of forensic tests by the Vietnam Military Forensic Medicine Institute showed that Bao had been hit hard on the head, wrists and ankles with some hard object.

Bui Quang Minh, head of the criminal investigation team in Hai Ba Trung district, confirmed that Bao had been summoned to the police station and had died later.

But Minh refused to give further details or comment on the death. "We cannot provide further information as the case is being investigated and we ourselves are also under investigation."

Truong Tho Toan, deputy head of Hanoi's investigation team, said his unit will work with the forensic experts to find out the process leading to the injuries that killed Bao.

Nguyen Duc Chung, head of the criminal investigation office of Hanoi police, had written a note to Phuc's family that the investigation will be objective and the police officers involved will be "strictly" punished if they are found guilty.

A similar case happened with Nguyen Manh Hung, 33, of Ha Dong District. Hung was detained in November 10 last year for stealing a car emblem. Ten days later, the police rushed him to the Ha Dong General Hospital but he died. Severe bruises were found on his legs.

Hung's family has complained to Hanoi authorities, suspecting Hung had been tortured to death.

Ha Dong Police have denied using any kind of violence but they failed to explain the bruises on his legs.

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