Police trying to 'mislead' probe into vendor's death in custody, family alleges

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Police in the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long say they are still investigating the death of a local man who died in police custody last month.

An autopsy revealed the man's skull was cracked, and his ribs and breast bone were broken, signs that he was beaten brutally, but the family says the police are trying to mislead the investigation and pressurize them.  

The family of Nguyen Van Duc, 32, said he and his wife, two vendors at the Truong An Market in Vinh Long City, were selling doughnuts at the market at around 8 a.m. on May 28 when police showed up and asked him to follow them. 

They said Duc would be questioned for his alleged involvement in a robbery one year earlier.


Duc was led to the police station in Truong An Ward and later moved to the Vinh Long City police station.


At 8 p.m. on May 29, police asked the family to go to the Vinh Long General Hospital to receive his dead body.


According to the hospital, police rushed Duc to the emergency room at 5:55 a.m. on May 29. Duc had a fever and was suffering from convulsions but was still conscious then, doctors said.


After performing an ultrasound scan and blood tests, doctors suspected that he had dengue fever and transferred him to the department of contagious diseases.


Duc stopped having convulsions later that afternoon. But he fell into a coma at around 5 p.m. the same day. Then he stopped breathing and there was no pulse, so they tried to resuscitate him, but he did an hour later, doctors said.


An autopsy showed he died of brain hemorrhage, and his skull was cracked. He also had two broken ribs and a broken breastbone, signs that he might have been beaten badly while in custody.


His family has repeatedly asked local authorities to investigate the death. Tong Thi Ly, his mother, told the press that Vinh Long City police on June 4 invited the family to their office to receive some money, but they refused.  

The family said the police of Vinh Long City repeatedly summoned them to ask whether Duc had fought with anyone before, and how was his behavior towards his neighbors.

They said the police also came to some drug stores near their house to ask if Duc had bought any medicines which would lead to his death.

According to the family, the police are trying to mislead the investigation and put the family under pressure.

They said Duc was not involved in the robbery that the police reportedly wanted to question him about.

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