Vietnamese man dies in custody, body indicates torture, family says

Vu Minh Duc fainted during questioning and was rushed to the hospital, police say.


RFA | 2024.03.26

The family of a 31-year-old man who died in police custody in Vietnam say his body showed signs of torture.

On March 22, Vu Minh Duc was summoned to a police station in Long Thanh district, Dong Nai province, for questioning about his involvement in an October 2023 quarrel which escalated into what his family described as gang violence. He would be dead by the end of the day.

It’s the latest example of a person dying in suspicious circumstances while in police custody.

Duc, the primary breadwinner of his household and a father of two children, including a one-year old, was called into the interrogation room at 10:30 a.m. Two relatives who accompanied him to the station were asked not to enter, a relative, who requested anonymity for safety reasons, told Radio Free Asia. He said that Duc had been in good health without any major illnesses or symptoms of disease. 

About 3:00 p.m, the investigator phoned Duc’s wife and asked her to sign some papers. When she went to the station, they explained that while they were taking Duc’s testimony, he fainted, so they took him to the hospital for emergency care.

One of Duc’s brothers told the Phap Luat Online newspaper that the police wanted Duc’s wife to sign papers related to his health. 

By the end of the day, Duc had been to another hospital. When the family arrived at the second hospital, the doctors told them that he died at about 9:30 p.m.

“We saw the corpse and took some photos,” said a family member who didn’t want to be named for fear of reprisals. “We saw bruises and signs of possibly bloody vomit in his mouth. The hospital concluded that the cause of death was multiple injuries, as there were bruises on the body. 

The photos shared with RFA showed injuries on the left leg, the neck, and the mouth with evidence of dried blood. Additionally the back of Duc’s left thigh had dark purple bruises.

At least 16 people died in police stations or detention facilities between 2018 and 2021, according to statistics collected by RFA from Vietnamese state-owned media reports. Many of those deaths have been publicized by relatives on social media. 

Since then several more have suffered a similar fate.

Most recently on March 8, villagers in Dak Lak province found the body of Christian preacher Y Bum Bya hanging in the local cemetery.

The Central Highlands Evangelical Church of Christ, to which he belonged, released a statement on March 19 saying Y Bum Bya was murdered after being repeatedly beaten and threatened by local police.

The police had asked him to meet them in the cemetery saying they wanted to return his mobile phone, the church said.

An hour later villagers discovered his body. There was no suicide note. Police declined to discuss the case on the phone with RFA.

In the case of Vu Minh Duc, state media reported that his family requested the National Autopsy Institute to clarify the cause of death. They took his body home on Monday to prepare for a funeral.

RFA attempted to contact investigator Luu Quang Trung of the Long Thanh district police, whose name was on Duc’s summons paper, but he did not pick up the phone.

Officers at the station said that inquiries about the case could only be made in person.

Translated by An Nguyen. Edited by Eugene Whong and Mike Firn.




[Home] [About us] [Bills of Rights] [Documents] [H R Reports] [VNHR Awards] [HR Forum] [Links]