Vietnamese police accept shortcomings in in-custody death scandal

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Police in Binh Duong Province have said they are responsible for managing their officials regarding an investigator accused of soliciting for sex from the wife of a man he was investigating for a theft.

The man who was being investigated, 30-year-old Nguyen Cong Nhut of Kumho Tires factory, died at the police station during investigation. Police said he committed suicide, but Nhut's wife, Nguyen Thi Thanh Tuyen, rejected the issue and has complained to relevant authorities.

The case began in August last year when the Kumho Tire Factory found that 50 tires had been stolen and reported the case to Ben Cat District police.

On April 21, eight months after the company's report, Ben Cat police summoned Nhut for interrogation. Four days later, he was found dead at the police station.

Police said Nhut had committed suicide by hanging himself with the cord of a mobile phone charger. They also produced a suicide note they claimed was written by Nhut. But Tuyen later said that it was not her husband's handwriting.

On April 28, Tuyen submitted a petition to local authorities arguing that her husband had been beaten to death while in police custody.

A day later, she gave media organizations tapes and voice recordings of her conversations with police major Nguyen Thanh Phu, one of the investigators in the case. The recordings revealed that Phu had asked her for sex in exchange for helping her husband.

On May 19, Phu was demoted from major to captain. Phu told the provincial police leaders that he was just "joking" when soliciting sex from Tuyen.

Binh Duong police were investigating the case until early June, when the Supreme People's Procuracy Vietnam's highest state prosecution office took over. But the Procuracy has yet to deliver any conclusion.

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In the recent report to the Ministry of Public Security, Binh Duong Police Department said it has shortcomings in managing its officials, according to the department deputy director Mai Cong Danh.

According to the report, the provincial police department accepted that Phu was wrong in calling Tuyen without asking for permission from his seniors. "This has affected the department regulations and affected its prestige," it said.

Between April 21-25, Tuyen phoned Phu 10 times including five missed calls. Phu called Tuyen twice.

However, the department denied that Phu solicited Tuyen for sex, saying Phu came to know Tuyen for only four days and had yet to meet or have any "actions" with her.

Thus there is no evidence indicating that he solicited her for sex, the department said.

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