Mob attack cops in central Vietnam over alleged brutality

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A police motorbike burned by an enraged mob in the central province of Binh Thuan on November 14 / PHOTO: QUE HA

Police in the south-central province of Binh Thuan are investigating a case in which a mob allegedly attacked police officers and burned down one of their motorbikes.

The mob believed that the officers had beaten a traffic violator.

Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Nguyen Van Loan, chief of Tanh Linh District's police division told Thanh Nien Friday that the night before, a team of eight traffic officers on duty at a street post caught Ho Ngoc Khoa, 20, driving two women on a motorbike without helmets.

When the officers ordered him to pull over, Khoa did not, and instead headed toward Hamlet 5 in Gia An Commune.

Two officers chased after him on a motorbike, but when they reached a crossroad, Khoa's bike went down, leaving him lying still, Loan said.

A man living nearby, who was later identified as Dinh Van Le, then cried for help, claiming that police were beating the man, which prompted the others to rush to the site and beat the officers.

The official said other officers also came to the site, but since the crowd was big and violent, all of them, except Lieutenant Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, fled, leaving behind their vehicles.

Nguyen Van Nam, who lives nearby, dragged Tuan to his house and forced him to sign a confession that police had beaten Khoa, but Tuan refused and was later released by the commune police and local officials, according to Loan.

In the meantime, the mob, including many drunken people, broke a police pickup truck's windows, and burned down a police motorbike worth VND49 million (US$2,300), he said.

Le also tried to stop police from carrying Khoa to hospital, he added.

But, the commune police managed to bring him to Nam Binh Thuan General Hospital, where he was diagnosed as having a minor back injury and scratches on his arm.

Dr. Ho Phi Long, director of the hospital, told Thanh Nien that Khoa's blood alcohol content was "very high" upon hospitalization.

According to Loan, he ordered chief of the police team on duty that night to write a report on the case. So far, Loan said he has yet to detect any misconduct on the part of officers involved.

Police are now identifying people who participated in the melee to punish them in accordance with laws, he said.

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On the other hand, at a meeting with representatives of local agencies, Le said he saw officers beating Khoa, adding that he tried to stop the officers but they threatened to beat him as well, so he cried for help.

The identities and states of the women who accompanied Khoa that day are unknown.

Police are investigating.

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