Police brutality on the rise

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The alleged shooting of a man by a plainclothes cop in the southern province of Dong Nai on Tuesday is the latest in a series of incidents involving excessive use of violence by the guardians of the law, some of which have been fatal.

According to police in Bien Hoa Town, 32 kilometers to the northeast of Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen Hoai Tan, 22, a local policeman in Neighborhood No. 5 of Long Binh Ward, shot a man in the thigh and abdomen during a skirmish involving the policeman and a group of five people.

The shooting occurred at around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday (April 12) when Tan was walking in the neighborhood with two other policemen. They came across a group of five people gathered in front of Long Binh Primary School. Tan asked the group to disperse but they ignored his request and a fight broke out.

Tan allegedly fired twice in the air with his pistol and shot one man twice, in the abdomen and leg. The gun jammed after the fourth shot.

The person being shot was 30- year-old Tran Thanh Chuong, a worker for a factory in the Bien Hoa 2 Industrial Park. He was taken to the Thong Nhat Area General Hospital in Bien Hoa Town for emergency care. Doctors said one of the shots went through his intestines and stopped in his pelvis. He also suffered a fracture in his left hand and multiple injuries elsewhere on his body.

Meanwhile, Tan was also taken to the hospital with severe head injuries.

Bien Hoa police did not say whether Tan was on duty at that time, and if his friends were involved in the fight or not. They said they case was being investigated further.

Custody deaths

In another case involving police violence, police in Soc Trang Province on Monday arrested sergeant major Danh Nhan of Nga Nam Town for allegedly beating an inebriated local resident to death on March 30 when interrogating the latter over beating his own mother.

Nhan was also dismissed from service the same day and will be investigated for "deliberately causing injuries leading to death," the police said.

Investigators said they found evidence that Nhan had beaten 44-year-old Tran Van Du, a resident of the No. 3 neighborhood in the Mekong Delta province.

On March 30, the town police took Du to their station after he got drunk and allegedly beat up his own mother. The case was handled by Nhan, Senior Lieutenant Vo Van Ut Deo, deputy chief of police of Nga Nam Town, and Sergeant Tran Van Khai.

At around 9 p.m. the same day, residents going to a volleyball court near the police office found Du lying dead on the street.

An autopsy found that he had died of abdominal hemorrhage caused by a ruptured liver and spleen. He also had a serious injury at the back of his head.

Du's son told Thanh Nien that he had had no injuries or ailments before he was taken to the police station.

Further details about the case, which is under investigation, were not available.

On April 10, the Soc Trang provincial police department announced a criminal probe into the case.

On the same day, the Party Unit of Nga Nam District suspended Nhan, Deo and Khai from their membership and the provincial police suspended them from their jobs.

Major General Nguyen Phuc Thao, director of the Soc Trang police department, said Monday that the case has been reported to the Ministry of Public Security.

He pledged to conduct a thorough investigation into the case. "Some police officials of Nga Nam Town have committed wrongdoings. I have ordered an investigation and will issue appropriate punishment," he said.

According to Senior Lieutenant Colonel Huynh Van Men, chief investigator of the provincial police force, investigators found that Nhan had directly caused serious injuries to Du when interrogating him on March 30. Du fell unconscious and died near the gate of Nga Nam Town police station later, he said.

Hanoi authorities pledged last month to investigate "deliberate assault" charges against a former lieutenant-colonel in an incident that occurred at the Giap Bat Bus Station on February 28.

Lieutenant-colonel Nguyen Van Ninh and some security men are accused of wrongdoing in the death of 53-year-old Trinh Xuan Tung, who was found taking his helmet off to make a telephone call while riding pillion on a xe om (motorbike taxi) toward the bus station.

Tung was arrested and taken to a nearby police station. Later that day, he was admitted to Bach Mai Hospital with severe injuries to his neck. Doctors there transferred him to the Viet Duc Hospital where he died on March 8.

In another case, Second Lieutenant Nguyen The Nghiep, 26, was sentenced in early March to seven years in prison for "causing a wrongful death in the commission of his official duties."

Nghiep was found to have delivered a fatal blow to the head of a young man who had been taken to the station for driving without a helmet.

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