Woman's death at prosecutors' party an accident: local authorities

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Agencies in the southern province of Long An have concluded the death of a woman who drowned at a party attended by two top officials of the local prosecutors' office was an accident, the Tuoi Tre reported Friday.

The newspaper quoted an unnamed source as saying that the conclusion was reached at a meeting between the Tan Tru District's People's Procuracy (prosecutor's office), People's Court and the police on Thursday.

The agencies concluded that Dinh Thi Kim Phuong, 20, had fallen into the Vam Co Dong River on her own from the barge where a dozen or so people had gathered to drink and make merry on August 20.

Among them were Nguyen Kim Doan, chief of Can Giuoc District's People's Procuracy and his subordinate Nguyen Huong Giang.

Phuong's mother Nguyen Thi Kim Khue had told the newspaper earlier that she doubted the death of her daughter was an accident.

Khue said she'd been told that Phuong's body was found wearing stockings as well as a mobile phone and watch that her friend, who had bathed in the river, asked her to keep, so it was impossible for her to have jumped into the river to take a bath.

Meanwhile, some people said there was no chance for Phuong to have fallen into the river accidentally, given the height of the barge's barrier, the Tuoi Tre reported.

Also on Thursday, Pham Huu Chau, spokesman of Long An Province's police division, announced initial information obtained from their investigations.

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Chau said nine men, including the officials, and five women had joined the party.

After drinking for about one hour, some of the women began bathing in the river, and were later joined by several others.

Phuong, who couldn't swim, stayed on the barge, keeping watch over the mobile phone and watch of Vo Thi Hoa, the official said.

A few moments later, Nguyen Thi My Hang, who was bathing some five meters from the barge, heard someone fall into the river. When she looked up at the barge, Phuong was not to be seen.

The body of Phuong, who was married but separated, was found later the same day.

Tuoi Tre quoted the police report as saying that Tran Van Ut, who was fishing nearby the site the barge anchored when the accident happened, said the people on board kept looking for the woman, so he asked them to inform the local police.

Ut said the water at the port location was deep so  people bathed far from it.  

The newspaper also quoted Nguyen Nhat Tuan, who invited Doan to the party, as saying he didn't know the women. The were invited by others, he said.

Hoa, Phuong's friend, also said she joined the party at the invitation of Le Van Pho, one of the participants, and asked Phuong to go with her. She didn't know the others, she said.

In his report to the inspectors of Can Giuoc District's Party Unit on Wednesday, Doan also said he didn't know most of the participants.

According to Tuoi Tre, Thai Van O, deputy secretary of Can Giuoc's Party Unit, his unit's inspectors have come to work with Tan Tru District's police to clarify the officials' involvement and punish them accordingly, but the latter was yet to arrive at official conclusions.

The district Party Unit's inspectorate had said earlier that Doan and Giang seem to have violated ethical norms.

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