Police say they're investigating the death of a Ho Chi Minh City man who told relatives he was stopped by a group of uniformed police and then beaten unconscious by a group of unidentified men.
Nguyen Van Chin, 44, was rushed to Thong Nhat hospital in a taxi on June 25 with severe abdominal pain. The man succumbed to an intestinal rupture hours later, doctors said.
His brother, Nguyen Van Nhan, told Thanh Nien News that he received a phone call from a doctor at the Thong Nhat hospital informing him that Chin was in the emergency room.
When Nhan and Tinh (another of Chin's brothers) arrived at the hospital, Chin was still in full of possession of his faculties, but kept complaining of severe stomach pain.
Nhan says Chin said he was stopped after drinking beer with friends by a group of police at the intersection of Tan Ky Tan Quy and Truong Chinh streets in Tan Binh District. The police measured his blood alcohol levels and decided to seize his 125cc motorbike without preparing a written report.
When Chin began demanding to see a report, a group of men in plainclothes arrived and asked Chin to come with them and pick up the report.
Chin reportedly told his brothers that he followed the group down the street until they stopped and beat him unconscious. Chin told his brothers he awoke in severe pain and was taken to the hospital by taxi.
At 4 a.m. on June 26, Chin was admitted to the operating room and spent three hours in surgery. At 4 p.m. the same day, he regained consciousness, but his condition deteriorated four hours later.
He died at 1:30 a.m. on June 27.
An officer with the Tan Binh District Traffic Police Department confirmed to Thanh Nien News that a group of his colleagues, working late on June 25, seized Chin’s motorbike after finding his blood alcohol levels beyond the legal limit.
“The group of police drove a truck carrying Chin’s motorbike to the station; they didn't know that he was beaten by strangers,” said the officer, speaking on condition of anonymity.
They only learned of Chin's fate on June 27, he said.
However, the taxi driver who took Chin to the hospital said he was stopped by a group of uniformed policemen and asked to drive Chin home. On the way, Chin told the driver to bring him to the hospital, claiming that he'd been badly beaten by the police.
The Tan Binh police are investigating the case and an official report has yet to be written about the incident.
Cops using thugs for protection?
In July 2013, a Thanh Nien News investigative story quoted several people who came forward with stories of shady men that hung out near police checkpoints and attacked drivers who argue with traffic cops.
Given several instances of traffic police standing idly by as drivers who quarrel over their violations or attempt to film police activity are brutally assaulted by strangers, the story suspected a possible nexus between law enforcement and criminals.
The police have dismissed those allegations.
The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 said last year that the police force was the most corrupt institution in Vietnam.