Vietnam province to retry brutal cops for heavier punishment

By Minh Duc, Thanh Nien News

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Five police officers at a trial in Phu Yen Province earlier this month, They were sentenced to up to five years in jail for beating a burglary suspect to death during an interrogation. PHOTO COURTESY OF TUOI TRE

Prosecutors in Phu Yen Province ordered fresh an investigation, on Tuesday, into a fatal police brutality case that concluded in rather lenient punishments in early April.
The decision, signed by chief provincial prosecutor Nguyen Huu Phuc, said the punishment did not match the nature and level of the crime and ordered the provincial People’s Court to launch another trial.
The court of Tuy Hoa, the provincial capital, had sentenced three local police officers to18 months, two and five years in jail, respectively, on April 3. The court also handed down suspended sentences to two others charged with the use of corporal punishment.
The men were found guilty of beating Ngo Thanh Kieu, 32, to death while questioning him about his alleged involvement in a burglary that took place in May of 2012.
Following the trial, the media reported widespread public discontent with the verdict; numerous newspaper's carried editorials arguing it was too lenient.
President Truong Tan Sang instructed relevant agencies to apply the laws more correctly and punish the officers more harshly.
The prosecutors also urged an investigation into Le Duc Hoan, the deputy chief of the Tuy Hoa police department, who led the burglary investigation.
Hoa was not held responsible in the previous trial though Phuc’s statement said he could be charged with “irresponsibility causing serious consequences.”
According to the first indictment, the group of officers handcuffed Kieu at his home and on the morning of his death and took him to a police station without a warrant
The officers guarding Kieu beat him with rubber batons, causing brain and other injuries that killed him that evening.
Stories of suspects dying in police custody have become a regular occurrence in Vietnam; police brutality has factored into a number of those cases.
Early this month, Da Nang Police released the body of an 18-year-old boy to his family, claiming that he'd hung himself in his cell. The boy had turned himself in several days earlier for his role in the vigilante abduction and assault of two suspected motorbike thieves.
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 confess.
Chan is currently seeking compensation and an investigation against the accused officers, after his name was officially cleared in January this year.

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