Vietnam ex-cops receive suspended sentences for torturing woman

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Two former police officers in the central province of Khanh Hoa each has received a nine-month suspended sentence for beating up a theft suspect when interrogating her, Dan Tri reported.

According to the newswire, Tran Ba Tuan, 36, and Nguyen Dinh Quyet, 28, former investigators of Nha Trang's police division, were also ordered to pay VND3 million (US$142) in compensation to Tran Thi Lan, 42, at the trial of Khanh Hoa People's Court on Monday.

Both the ex-cops pleaded guilty to the charges of "torturing," the newswire reported.

The indictment said on November 28, 2010, Tuan and Quyet brought Lan to their office for interrogation on theft suspicion. Vo Ha Trang, who hired Lan to work as a house maid, accused her of stealing VND7 million (US$332) and US$1,750.

During the interrogation, which last until 5 p.m. the next day, the duo used rubber sticks and tasers to beat Lan and force her to admit to the theft, prosecutors said.

The woman admitted to stealing the money and said that she left it at a drawer at Trang's home. However, when Tuan and Quyet brought her to the house to search for the money, they found nothing.

During more interrogations later, Lan claimed that she hid the money in a bush nearby her rented house, and that she gave it to an acquaintance. Yet the ex-cops didn't find anything following her statements.

On November 29, local police decided to take Lan in for an investigation. Tuan and his colleague then made a letter certifying that Lan was in normal, healthy condition, according to the newswire.

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However, the next day, Lan fainted at the detention center and was brought to Khanh Hoa General Hospital. She was diagnosed with multiple injuries and received treatment until December 7, Dan Tri said.

On March 21, the Nha Trang Town People's Court sentenced Lan to a year in jail for stealing. She was also ordered to pay her former employer VND35 million.

It quoted the board of judges as saying that the acts by Tuan and Quyet violated citizens' honor and health, and made people lose their trust in law enforcers, causing public outrage.

However, they received suspended sentences because they had never committed crimes before and the acts originated from their sense of responsibilities in fighting criminals, the board said. The officers previously had been praised for completing their duties well many times, the board stressed.

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