Officer demoted for soliciting sex in southern Vietnam

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A police officer in the southern province of Binh Duong has been demoted for soliciting sex from the wife of a man who later died in police custody.


Nguyen Thanh Phu, who is currently suspended, has been demoted from major to captain, Nguyen Hoang Thao, vice director of Binh Duong province's police division, said on Thursday.


Previously, while demanding an investigation into the death of her husband, Nguyen Cong Nhut, who allegedly committed suicide while under detention at the Ben Cat Town police station, Nguyen Thi Thanh Tuyen claimed that Phu had asked her to go into a hotel with him, and also advised her to sell her land if she wanted to save Nhut.


Tuyen, 30, showed two tapes that recorded phone calls from Phu, who was part of a team investigating the theft of between 6,000 and 7,000 tires at Kumho Tire factory in My Phuoc Industrial Park, where Nhut, 33, worked as head of the finished products management division.


However, Phu later claimed in his explanation to the provincial police's director board that he was just "joking" with Tuyen.


In the meantime, news website VnExpress quoted Tran Dinh Trien, the advocate of Nhut's family, as saying that the punishment for Phu was unacceptable, because Tuyen's recorded tapes were enough to charge Phu for "soliciting bribes" and "unsuccessful rape attempts."


"It's unacceptable that an officer indulging in such violations is just demoted. In my opinion, he should have been dismissed from service so that public confidence is maintained," Trien said.


According to Trien, the tapes' content also showed that Nhut was detained, and did not voluntarily stay at police station as claimed by the police.


Last week, in a meeting with Nhut's family to announce initial investigations into his death, the police said Nhut had volunteered to stay at the station from April 21-30 during the investigation. He was supposedly found hanging from the cord of a mobile phone charger on April 25.


Police confirmed that Nhut died of strangulation and that the handwriting in a suicide note where he admitted to theft matched his.


However, his family has remained unconvinced and have called for further investigation by higher-level agencies.


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