These man are among 85 Vietnamese suspects who have been detained for their roles in mass violence at the Formosa steel mill project in Ha Tinh Province. PHOTO COURTESY OF HA TINH POLICE
Police in the north-central province of Ha Tinh arrested five more people on Monday for allegedly looting the future site of a Taiwanese steel mill the day after a riot there claimed two lives and left 149 people injured.
The additional arrests have raised the total number of suspects in the Formosa riot to 85.
Members of the group stand variously accused of inciting, contributing to, and capitalizing on a brawl at the site of a steel mill being built by Taiwan’s Formosa Plastics Group.
Police say they'll investigate each suspect's possible role in "causing public order", "intentionally causing injuries", "vandalism" and "theft."
The violence left two Chinese citizens dead and 149 others (Chinese and Vietnamese alike) injured, making the incident the worst of the violence that arose from the originally peaceful demonstrations prompted by Beijing's deployment of a mobile oil rig into Vietnam's continental shelf and exclusive economic zone on May 1.
Police said the suspects were local residents and employees at the Vung Ang Economic Zone where the Formosa mill was being built.
The violence began on the afternoon of May 14 when two groups of Chinese and Vietnamese workers got into a scuffle near the future site of the mill's blast furnace, as other workers protested outside the mill gates.
A group of 5,000 Vietnamese and 1,000 Chinese workers flew into a brawl, after a false rumor spread through the crowd that a Vietnamese worker had been beaten to death.
A number of people cashed in on he mayhem to steal building materials and other property from the site.
In addition, three buildings being used as temporary worker housing were burned to the ground.
Representatives from the Formosa mill estimate that damage caused by arson, vandalism, and looting totals VND168 billion (US$7.95 million).
On May 16, Ha Tinh met with a group of Chinese contractors, investigators and diplomatic attachés at the Vung Ang Economic Zone to announce increases in security for foreign firms and employees.
Further south, police in Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces say they're still investigating a number of criminal gangs suspected of looting factories, burning down warehouses and fomenting disorder at industrial parks.
Protests against a Chinese oil rig illegally stationed in Vietnamese territorial waters began with peaceful demonstrations across the country on May 11 but exploded into two days of rioting in Binh Duong, Dong Nai, and Ha Tinh on May 13-14.
Workers in Binh Duong claimed they were paid by a group who asked them to torch Chinese-owned factories.
In the confusion, they said, they also attack Taiwanese and South Korean factories.