Restaurant guards beat, taze Dutch Viet Kieu

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A Vietnamese-Dutchman was allegedly beaten, tasered and stripped of his pants by eight private security guards in Ho Chi Minh City last week.

The act has drawn public ire and doubts about the state of this largely untrained force.

The incident began around 7:20 p.m. on Saturday (July 30) after the victim, Le Van Ngai, 60, finished eating dinner at Minh Duc Restaurant on Ton That Tung Street in District 1.

After stepping out of the restaurant, Ngai claims he asked one of the guards standing out front to retrieve his motorbike. According to Ngai, the young man responded rudely and told him to get his own bike. After reprimanding the young man, the diner walked to the parking area adjacent to the establishment and mounted his motorbike.

Before he had the chance to drive away, Ngai claims he was tasered and set upon by a pack of five guards wielding clubs and stun guns. Ngai said he attempted to run into nearby houses to call the police only to be mauled by three more uniformed guards who rolled up in a 7-seater and continued the sidewalk assault.

An employee at a nearby café, Huynh Ngoc Thuan, attempted to stop the mob only to be beaten and tasered himself. Ironically, Ngai says, he ran back into the Minh Duc restaurant to hide until the police arrived. One of the guards chased Ngai and stripped off his pants in an unsuccessful effort to seize his cell phone, the victim told Thanh Nien.

Ngai and Thuan were taken to Saigon General Hospital (also in District 1) for emergency treatment.

On Monday, District 1 police detained six Thanh Cong Company guards and seized five tasers in connection with the crime.

The restaurant manager, Phung Anh Tu signed a contract with Thanh Cong for five guards on July 1, she said. Tu added that the guards were assigned to protect motorbikes and cars, and prevent hawkers from bothering their customers.

A senior member of the District 1 People's Committee said they have instructed district police to strictly punish those involved. They will consider suspending the restaurant's business license, he said.

Ngai said he has filed a lawsuit against his assailants.

Retired Major General Le Van Kinh, who heads the campaign for the establishment of private security enterprises in Vietnam, said the guards at Minh Duc Restaurant acted beyond the boundaries of their roles as security officers and should be duly punished.

He also said many employees of the nearly 700 security firms in Vietnam have not been properly trained due to a recent shortage of human resources.

It was the second time Minh Duc Restaurant guards have been implicated in such a beating.

Three years ago a Vietnamese diplomat and his wife were also assaulted by the restaurant guards while eating at the restaurant.

Fifty-eight-year-old trade counselor To Minh Duc and his wife went to the restaurant for lunch in January 2007. Duc asked for a dish to be changed but the staff not only refused but also abused the couple, sparking a row.

Soon several employees led by the restaurant owner arrived and jumped into the fight. Other customers had to step in to allow the couple to escape. On their way to a police station, Duc's wife suddenly passed out. She was taken to Cho Ray Hospital where doctors discoved she had sustained injuries to her neck and back.

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