Six alleged suspects of a murder in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang have accused local police of beating them and forcing them to admit to the crime they did not commit.
Tran Hol, Thach Muol, Tran Cua, Tran Van Do, Khau Soc and Thach So Phach told Thanh Nien their story after they were released on February 25, as the culprits of the murder gave themselves up to police.
On the morning of July 6, 2013, residents in a rural hamlet in Tran De District’s Dai An 2 Commune found the body of Ly Van Dung, a 43-year-old xe om (motorbike taxi) driver, on a road.
Dung was found dead with seven stabs on his body while his motorbike was left some 400 meters away. His mobile phone and wallet were not taken.
Police assumed that Dung was stabbed while he was driving; therefore he left his bike and ran, screaming for help but nobody heard him as it was late in the evening.
They assumed Dung eventually collapsed and died.
Soc Trang police assigned dozens of police officers to the site for investigations. The police then found Dung had carried two men, one of whom is 28-year-old Hol, many times on his bike.
Extended investigations showed Hol and his five friends had quarreled with Dung as they did not want him to carry local women who worked as waitresses at local eateries and restaurants.
Police then arrested the six for investigations on “murder” charge.
In mid December, the case took a twist as Le Thi My Duyen, 13, confessed to police she and 14-year-old Nguyen Kim Xuyen, her lesbian partner, were the culprits of the murder.
Duyen said they, both worked for a local eatery, planned to kill Dung to rob his properties.
Early that morning, they called Dung to take them to the eatery as they were his regular customers. When Dung arrived at an empty road, they stabbed him.
When the pair was about to rob his properties, Dung ran away and shouted for help. The pair fled the scene.
They fled to Ho Chi Minh City. Xuyen then had a relationship with another girl. Duyen was jealous and decided to confess to police the whole story.
She said she wanted to take revenge on Xuyen and that both will be arrested and detained together.
Based on her testimony, police arrested Xuyen. They also found a knife which the couple used to stab Dung in a pond.
The six men were then released. Hol told Thanh Nien the first time he was summoned for questioning, he denied being involved in the murder, but investigators insisted he was a culprit.
He said they beat him up many times later, until he could not stand it and admitted to the crime.
His friends also said they were beaten up until they admitted to the crime.
They said they wanted to hear explanations from the police.
Police, meanwhile, declined to comment and said they needed time to verify the testimony of those involved.
Local newspapers have reported many deaths that occurred either at police stations during interrogations or after the suspects were released, prompting calls for better guarantees of the rights of the accused and for more police transparency.
Experts say violations by investigators during interrogation could have been easily avoided if investigation agencies strictly respect the right of the arrested to ask for a lawyer.
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