Vietnam police chief could be charged for fatal beating

By Thai Son, Thanh Nien News

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Investigators from Vietnam’s top prosecution agency look to charge the supervisor of five police officers who allegedly beat a suspect to death.
The investigation unit from the Supreme People’s Procuracy said they began investigating Le Duc Hoan, deputy police chief of Tuy Hoa Town in the south central province of Phu Yen, on charges of criminal negligence and dereliction of duty
Hoan was nominally in charge of a May 2012 investigation of a burglary suspect named Ngo Thanh Kieu.
A court found that Kieu was beaten to death with rubber batons during an interrogation conducted by five of Hoan's subordinates--namely: Nguyen Minh Quyen, Nguyen Than Thao Thanh, Nguyen Tan Quang, Pham Ngoc Man and Do Nhu Huy.
In early April, a court convicted the officers. Some received suspended sentences; others got up to five years in jail for using corporal punishment.
Hoa wasn't even investigated.
Following the trial, the media reported widespread public discontent with the verdict. Numerous newspapers carried editorials which argued that the punishments were too lenient.
Such public outcry prompted President Truong Tan Sang to step in, instructing relevant agencies to apply the laws more correctly and punish the officers more harshly.
The victim’s family came forward, forcing Phu Yen prosecutors to reopen the case in late April.
Nguyen Huu Phuc, the province’s chief prosecutor, announced that Hoa could be charged for failing to supervise his subordinates.
According to the first indictment, the group of officers handcuffed Kieu at his home on the morning of his death and took him to a police station without a warrant.
Kieu later died of cerebral hemorrhaging and other injuries inflicted by the interrogating officers.
The 32-year-old was survived by his two small children.
On April 29, the prosecutor’s office of Phu Yen Province appealed the verdict of the Tuy Hoa Town People’s Court, saying Hoa should be investigated for gross negligence.
An appeals trial opened on July 9. It was the first time that Hoa showed up as a witness.
Hoa told the court he was totally unaware of his subordinates’ actions.
After the two-day trial, the Phu Yen Province People’s Court decided to cancel the first verdict and called for a fresh investigations into the case.

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