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Vietnam charges former cop for recording his traffic spat with police

A former Vietnamese policeman who in January was sentenced to two years over a traffic spat received an additional charge for recording his interaction with traffic police, state media reported.

Le Chi Thanh was once an officer at Han Tan Prison in the southern coastal province of Binh Thuan. He was fired in July 2020 after he accused his supervisor of corruption. Afterwards he became an active social media user, often livestreaming videos that monitored traffic police.

Police in Ho Chi Minh City impounded his car on March 2, 2021, for occupying a lane reserved for two-wheeled vehicles. He argued with the police in an attempt to stop them from taking his car, while recording and livestreaming the incident.

He was later arrested on April 14, 2021, on the charge of “resisting officers on official duty.”

The Ho Chi Minh City Law online newspaper reported that the procuracy in the southern province of Binh Thuan filed an additional charge of “abusing the rights to freedom and democracy to violate the state’s interests, legitimate rights and interests of organizations and individuals” in accordance with Article 331 of Vietnam’s Penal Code.

Thanh’s lawyer, Dang Dinh Manh, confirmed the new indictment to RFA’s Vietnamese Service. If convicted, Thanh could get two to seven years on top of his earlier two-year sentence, which he has since appealed.

During his pre-trial detention, in a video posted on October 29, 2021, Le Thi Phu, Thanh’s mother, called for justice for her son. She said in the video that detention officers had tortured him by cuffing his hands and legs and hanging him over a dung pit for seven days in a row.

Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.