HCMC reporter claims to have been beaten by traffic cops

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Police in Ho Chi Minh City's Nha Be District pledged on Monday to investigate accusations made by a journalist that he was beaten by a group of traffic police officers on Sunday evening.

Pham Phuoc Vinh, 47, a reporter for Nha Bao & Cong Luan (Journalist & Public Opinion) newspaper, called Thanh Nien via its hotline Monday morning claiming that he had been assaulted by traffic cops in Phuoc Kien Commune.

According to Vinh, he was driving his motorbike with two of his daughters aboard around 9 p.m. when he was pulled over by a six-member traffic police team for "carrying more people on motorbike than allowed."

Vinh said the squad was led by Sergeant-Major Le Phuong Tinh.

After Vinh pulled over, he asked his daughters to walk home. He then telephoned his wife, asking her to bring the registration certificate motorbike to the site.

The police officers ordered Vinh to bring his bike to the nearby headquarters of the Hamlet 5 People's Committee. As the officers were writing a report on Vinh's violation, Vinh noticed that some of them were not wearing their name badges, so he pulled out his mobile phone to take photos.

The officers then tried to seize the mobile phone from his hands. They struggled for a while until Vinh rushed out of the building, calling out for help from local residents. Vinh reportedly pulled his press card from his pocket and screamed: "I'm a reporter, please help me!"

The officers chased after him for 30 meters. After seeing them pull out a gun, Vinh stopped running and allowed himself to be apprehended.

The officers led him back to the office. After closing the gate, they deleted the photo he had taken with his mobile phone and handcuffed him.

Afterwards, Vinh alleges that the officers took turns beating him until he was no longer able to struggle.

Around 20 minutes later, they transported him in a police car to the Phuoc Kien Commune Police Station several kilometers away.

They ordered him to draft a confession, admitting that he had caused a public disorder. Vinh accepted, for fear of being beaten again.

He was released at 11 p.m. Sunday and was taken to hospital around 2 a.m., suffering from difficulty breathing and bruises all over his body.

On Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Lam Ngoc Thich, chief of the Phuoc Kien Commune Police Department, told Thanh Nien reporters he had not received any report from the traffic officers  that night related to "causing a public disorder."

He said police will investigate Vinh's allegations.

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