Investigators from the Ministry of Public Security have arrested a police officer in Dak Lak Province as part of a crackdown on the torture and abuse of criminal detainees.
A source from the Central Highlands province confirmed, Tuesday, that Major Le Manh Nam, deputy police chief and chief investigator in Gia Nghia District, was arrested last Friday following the death of a criminal suspect in custody.
Nam, 36, is being investigated for gross criminal negligence, the paper said.
The Major allegedly signed a summons for the victim, identified only as H.V.N., 40 -- one of several suspects in a timber poaching case that unfolded in March 2013.
The morning after he was taken to a police station, N.’s family was told he was dead.
The family filed complaints with the Ministry of Public Security and other government agencies, prompting the ministry to take Nam to Hanoi for investigation.
The death of criminal suspects in police custody has made regular headlines in Vietnam. The use of coercion and abuse in attempts to quickly wrap up criminal investigations with a full confession plays a recurring role in such cases.
Security officials arrested another Dak Lak police officer in July after a burglary suspect died in his custody.
Last month, four Hanoi cops were sentenced to between 8 and 17 years in jail for torturing a 54-year old burglary suspect to death in 2012.
The officers escaped the life sentence sought by prosecutors.
In the same month, a ranking officer in Soc Trang Province was detained as part of an official investigation into his subordinate officers' alleged mistreatment of a group of innocent men during a murder investigation last year.
Five officers convicted of beating a suspect to death in May 2012 in the south central province of Phu Yen are currently awaiting another trial after the sentences handed down in April were dismissed as overly lenient
Vietnam's top prosecutors have also pressed charge against their superior officer.
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 issue a false confession.
After his name was officially cleared in January of this year, Chan began seeking compensation and an investigation into the officers' alleged misconduct.
During a government meeting in July, President Truong Tan Sang said that police brutality is “destroying the system and the people’s confidence in the government.”