Vietnam’s top prosecutor’s office has charged a police chief in Phu Yen Province with “irresponsibility causing serious consequences” for the death of a suspect in police custody at the hands of his subordinates following a fresh investigation.
The Supreme People’s Procuracy on Friday said it has filed charges against Le Duc Hoan, former deputy police chief of Tuy Hoa town, who was not charged the first time around.
In May 2012 he had been in charge of an investigation in which a burglary suspect named Ngo Thanh Kieu was involved.
A court decided that Kieu had been beaten to death with rubber batons during interrogation by officers Nguyen Minh Quyen, Nguyen Than Thao Thanh, Nguyen Tan Quang, Pham Ngoc Man, and Do Nhu Huy.
Last April some of them then received suspended sentences and the others up to five years in jail. But Hoa was not even investigated.
The Penal Code prescribes up to 12 years in jail for the crime.
Following the trial, the media reported of widespread public anger with the verdict, and newspapers carried editorials castigating the sentences as too lenient.
President Truong Tan Sang called for applying the laws more correctly and punishing the officers more harshly.
The victim’s family appealed, prompting Phu Yen prosecutors to reopen the case in late April.
Subsequent investigation also found that Kieu was arrested without a warrant and just because the police had “grounds” to believe he was related to some arrested burglars.
Kieu was in normal health when he was first taken to the police station in Hoa Dong District.
But when he was later taken to the Tuy Hoa town station, Quang, Quyen, Man, and Huy took turns to hit him with plastic batons from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on May 13, 2012.
Thanh hit him on the head, killing him.
Hoan had failed to perform his role as supervisor, or at least did not perform it adequately, the investigation found.
The investigators also suggested that the Phu Yen Police should charge the eight officers who handcuffed Kieu without a warrant.
Stories of suspects dying in police custody have become a regular occurrence in Vietnam, and many officers have been arrested for investigation.
At a government meeting in July President Sang said the violation of judicial procedures is “destroying the system and people’s confidence in the government.”