A police officer in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak has been arrested for allegedly beating a suspected thief to death.
Colonel Nguyen Van Bon, deputy chief of investigators for the provincial police, announced the arrest of Officer Le Viet Hung who is being investigated for the death of Nguyen Huu Thau, 43.
Hung, 57, and several residents from the People's Committee in Thau's village took him to the village hall, last Thursday, after he was accused of having stolen something and held him there overnight.
Thau’s wife came to see him the next morning and found him unconscious on the ground.
His face was pale and bruised and blood was pouring from his mouth and nose.
Doctors at Dak Lak General Hospital diagnosed the man with cerebral trauma and transferred him to Cho Ray, Ho Chi Minh City’s leading hospital.
He died on the way.
His wife, Vo Thi Kim Que, said Thau was healthy when he left their house.
Stories of suspects dying in police custody have become a regular occurrence in Vietnam; police brutality has factored into a number of those cases.
The government in Phu Yen Province (in the south-central region) will revisit a fatal police brutality case after prosecutors criticized the initial sentences issued to the convicted officers as overly lenient.
Three officers were sentenced to between 18 months to 5 years in prison for beating a local man to death while questioning him for his alleged involvement in a burglary in May 2012.
Two of those men were let off with suspended sentences.
That same month, Da Nang Police released the body of an 18-year-old boy to his family, claiming that he’d hung himself in his cell. The boy had turned himself in several days earlier for his role in the vigilante abduction and assault of two suspected motorbike thieves.
In another high-profile case, Nguyen Thanh Chan of the northern province of Bac Giang served ten years of a life sentence for a wrongful murder charge in 2000. Following his release, he told reporters that police had tortured and threatened him with death to force him to confess.
Chan is currently seeking compensation and an investigation against the accused officers, after his name was officially cleared in January.