Vietnamese family disappointed at 'unjust' court ruling over fatal police brutality

Thanh Nien News

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Le Duc Hoan, a Phu Yen police officer, stands trial on April 15 as a burglary investigation he was leading ended up with a suspect beaten to death. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre Le Duc Hoan, a Phu Yen police officer, stands trial on April 15 as a burglary investigation he was leading ended up with a suspect beaten to death. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre

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A retrial into the death of a man in central Vietnam allegedly beaten by police officers has clearly concluded to the chagrin of the family of the victim. 
The five-day trial in Phu Yen Province ended Wednesday and it gave Le Duc Hoan, who led the deadly burglary investigation in May 2012, a nine-month suspended sentence with one and a half years of probation.
Hoan was not investigated during the first trial of the case in April last year, when his five subordinates received up to five years for beating Ngo Thanh Kieu to death during interrogation. Kieu was suspected of infiltration.
The victim’s family lodged an appeal. The media reported widespread public discontent with the verdict, with numerous newspapers running editorials arguing it was too lenient.
That prompted the country’s president to order a review of the case "in accordance with the laws."
An appeal court last July ordered fresh investigation, which dragged Hoan into the picture with charges of dereliction of duty.
But the retrial on Wednesday decided not to put him in jail based on his good record, including many achievements in crime fight, his family’s contribution in war time, and the fact that he had compensated the victim’s family VND20 million (nearly US$1,000).
Four of the five officers charged with using corporal punishment received heavier jail terms.
Nguyen Than Thao Thanh was handed the highest punishment of eight years, instead of five, as he was found guilty of dealing the fatal blow to Kieu’s head. 

Ngo Thi Tuyet, sister of the victim, cries after the trial ended as she did not believe justice has been done. Photo credit: Nguoi Lao Dong
Three other officers received jail terms of 24, 27 and 30 months while the fifth one got a one year suspended sentence. 
At the end of the trial, the victim’s father was seen covering his head in his hands. 
Kieu's sister Ngo Thi Tuyet was in tears, saying the verdict was still unjust.
Tuyet said during the trial that the officers “must be charged with murder.”
She said the officers once tried to pay her family a lot of money to have the appeal withdrawn. 
“You cannot kill and then use money to buy the laws,” she said, cited by Lao Dong (Labor) newspaper.

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