Court affirms suspended sentence for police who caused death of suspect

(VNRN) – Two police commanders who walked free despite causing an unexplained death of a suspect had their suspended sentences affirmed on June 13 by an appellate court in the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

The two, commune police commander Pham Van Tu (Phạm Văn Tự) and the deputy commander Pham Hung Cuong (Phạm Hùng Cường) were given suspended sentences of 18 and 15 months respectively in the 2009 death of Nguyen Van Long (Nguyễn Văn Long), who they suspect of rape.

Cuong led the force that arrested Long, then 40, just as he sat down for dinner with his family. At night, his wife Tran Thi Sang (Trần Thị Sang) was allowed to talk to him, and Long told her that he was innocent, that he had been wrongfully accused of rape. Long added, “They beat me really bad, I may die,” Sang told the Ho Chi Minh City Phap Luat (“Law”) newspaper.

The next morning, when Sang brought breakfast for Long, Tu the commander told her Long had committed suicide. “I didn’t believe that because his body had a lot of bruises,” Sang said.

The province’s CSI report concluded that Long “had external force hit on his temple” and that he died “by intracranial bleeding.”

Nobody at the police could say how Long died. Tu told investigator that he had found Long dead in his cell without giving any further explanation.

Tu and Cuong were prosecuted, but only for the “illegal arrest, custody or detention” of Long, “causing serious consequences.” The 2013 trial court convicted the two, and gave them suspended sentences, allowing them to go free.

Dissatisfied with the sentences, Long’s family appealed. On appeal, the family’s lawyer asked to have the trial verdict nullified and the case reopened to ascertain the cause of Long’s death. The attorney also wanted an investigation into the commune leader’s responsibility.

All demands were denied and the appellate court affirmed the trial court’s verdict.

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