Investigators from Vietnam’s top prosecution unit called for charges of gross negligence against the supervisor of five police officers who were convicted of beating a suspect to death.
In a statement issued Tuesday, an investigation unit from the Supreme People’s Procuracy said they'd found sufficient evidence to charge Le Duc Hoan, deputy police chief of Tuy Hoa town in the south central province of Phu Yen for gross professional negligence.
Hoan was in charge of an investigation in May 2012 into a burglary suspect named Ngo Thanh Kieu.
A court found that Kieu was beaten to death with rubber batons during interrogation conducted five of Hoan's subordinates--namely: Nguyen Minh Quyen, Nguyen Than Thao Thanh, Nguyen Tan Quang, Pham Ngoc Man and Do Nhu Huy.
In early April, a court convicted the officers. Some received suspended sentences; others got up to five years in jail for using corporal punishment.
Hoa wasn't even investigated.
Following the trial, the media reported widespread public discontent with the verdict; numerous newspapers carried editorials argued the punishments were too lenient.
President Truong Tan Sang instructed relevant agencies to apply the laws more correctly and punish the officers more harshly.
The victim’s family came forward, prompting Phu Yen prosecutors to reopen the case in late April.
Nguyen Huu Phuc, the province’s chief prosecutor, said then that Hoa could be charged for his lack of oversight.
According to the first indictment, the group of officers handcuffed Kieu at his home on the morning of his death and took him to a police station without a warrant.
Kieu died of cerebral hemorrhaging and other injuries. The 32-year-old was survived by his two small children.
Stories of suspects dying in police custody have become a regular occurrence in Vietnam and police brutality has factored into a number of those cases.
A police officer in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak was arrested last July after a burglary suspect died in his custody.
Last month, prosecutors in the Mekong Delta’s Dong Thap Province charged two other officers for beating and kicking a burglary suspect to death to extract his confession.
In one high-profile case, Nguyen Thanh Chan from 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 issue a false confession.
Chan is currently seeking compensation and an investigation into the accused officers, after his name was officially cleared in January of this year.
During a government meeting in July, President Sang said that the violation of judicial procedures is “destroying the system and the people’s confidence in the government.”