Another police officer in the southern province of Soc Trang was detained Thursday as part of an ongoing probe into allegations that police assaulted innocent men during a murder investigation last year.
Investigators from Vietnam’s top prosecution unit decided to detain Major Nguyen Hoang Quan for four months while they looked into the charges against him.
The police called for charges against Quan on August 8 but postponed his arrest while he received treatment for injuries he sustained in a traffic accident.
His colleague Captain Trieu Tuan Hung was arrested on the same charge, when Pham Van Nui, a Soc Trang prosecutor, received a detention order for his role in the investigation.
Quan, Hung and a number of subordinates detained six local men for the death of a local xe om (motorbike taxi) driver and held another woman for seven months for failing to report the crime after the driver was found dead last July.
The men the officers allegedly assaulted were Tran Hol, Thach Muol, Tran Van Do, Tran Cua, Thach So Phach and Khau Soc.
Police considered them prime suspects since they had been the driver’s regular customers.
Some had been seen arguing with him prior to his death.
The case took an unexpected turn in December when a teenage girl gave herself up for the murder and led police to arrest her lesbian lover.
Some of the innocent men told Thanh Nien after their release last February that police beat them and forced them to confess.
Phan Huu Thuy, spokesman for the Soc Trang Police, admitted that the team was eager to wrap up the case, leading to “hasty” detentions.
For that hastiness, Quan and 24 colleagues were censured and demoted last June.
Quan was downgraded from a team leader in charge of murder and assault investigations at the Soc Trang Police Department’s social crime unit to deputy team leader and removed from its Communist Part unit.
The actual perpetrators of the crime, Le Thi My Duyen, 13, confessed to police that she and 14-year-old Phan Thi Kim Xuyen, fled to Ho Chi Minh City after they stabbed the driver to death during a robbery on an empty country road.
Once in Ho Chi Minh City, Xuyen began a relationship with another girl, prompting a jealous Duyen to go to the police in the hopes that they’d be sent to prison together.
Police recovered the knife the girls used to kill the driver from a pond.
A Soc Trang court on August 19 sentenced Xuyen to 12 years in jail, Vietnam’s maximum punishment for murder by a person under 16 years old.
Duyen avoided criminal charges for committing a crime before the age of 14 and was sent to reform school.