Authorities in Vietnam have arrested a police officer in conjunction with the death last year of a Christian leader who police claimed committed suicide while in custody.
Vietnamese daily Tien Phong reported that investigations have been opened into the case of Hoang Van Ngai, who died in police custody in March of last year.
In June 2013, police released an official report claiming the 38-year-old Christian leader had committed suicide “by electric shock” following an arrest on unknown charges. The assertion was widely denounced by rights groups and his family, including a brother who had been arrested along with Ngai and reported hearing his screams from the cell next door.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) said in a statement they hoped the case would be thoroughly re-investigated.
“The authorities’ failure to address the questions raised by Ngai’s death casts serious doubt on the government’s commitment to the protection of human rights in Vietnam. We hope that the arrest of this officer is a sign that the authorities are looking afresh at the case. We urge the authorities to take this opportunity to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into Ngai’s death, and to hold to account those found to be responsible,” CSW’s chief executive Mervyn Thomas said in a statement.
Abuse in police custody in Vietnam is routine and widespread. In a report issued last month by Human Rights Watch, the group detailed dozens of cases of extreme police torture.