Thanh Nien: Air authorities fight police over sword-wielding cop

[Follow-up] This yarn was originally sited in a post to the VNBiz mailing list where it was used as an example of how laws must be braced by ethics in both the judicial and enforcement arms of a nation's legal system. 

Today, a mere two days later, the online English edition of Vietnam's Thanh Nien newspaper reports, "Central Vietnam's airport authorities have asked police to review their decision to press no criminal charges".

We'll let Thanh Nhien fill the gaps via rather long excerpts from their report, " Air authorities fight police over sword-wielding cop scandal".  Sounds like quite a circus act:

Security guards at Da Nang airport arrested Do Hoai Phuong Minh, a policeman on vacation, on August 11, accusing him of attempting to attack them with a sword after being told he could not park in a no-parking zone.

When told to park in a designated area, Minh allegedly went ballistic and insulted the guards before chasing them with a large blade. Guards found another sword in his car after he was apprehended. 

[Ed: Thanh Nhien foots the story with, "Reported by Thanh Nien staff – Translated by The Vinh".  The Vinh must be among the Vietnam media's elite translators.  After over a decade of reading English versions of the Vietnamese press, its hard to believe there's a translator in there familiar with the expression, "to go ballistic". - ADM]

The incident stirred widespread public outrage as many demanded that Minh be charged with preventing officials from executing duty and illegally possessing and using a primitive weapon, crimes which carry jail terms of up to two and three years, respectively.

The Hai Chau district police, however, decided last Thursday that Minh's violations were "disturbing public order" and "trading and transporting a primitive weapon", and fined him VND5 million (US$38) and confiscated his swords instead.

On the same day, the Central Airport Authority, which manages the Da Nang airport, sent a letter to Da Nang police leaders in protest of the decision.


Fact gaps

The police said Minh had not attempted to attack the guard with his sword.

Minh was just "rearranging the luggage in his car trunk," the police report said. He then "took a 1-meter long sword [from the trunk] and unsheathed it" before being brought down by three security guards.

The report did not mention why he unsheathed the sword. However, it did say that Minh had had a quarrel over his illegal parking with the guards before the incident.

It quoted him as saying that if the guards dared to take off their uniform, "I'd beat you dead." His fried Truc [Ed: wait.. what?!], whom Minh had picked up, also said that, "I'll call someone and you'll all be sacked."

Pham Phu My, Vice Director of the airport's security center told Thanh Nien he stuck to the security guards' report.  "We told the truth and the truth only," he stressed.

Gun story

Minh, a traffic policeman from the southern Binh Duong province, told the police he had bought the two swords, which looked like those of Japanese samurais, as "souvenirs" several days earlier.

His father, Do Van Cong, who is the Communist Party secretary of a Binh Duong district, told the media after the scandal that "if [Minh's violations are] worth jail term, he must be jailed."

After the Da Nang police report, the Binh Duong police department suspended Minh for three months.  It also promised to reopen a probe into a 2000 incident in which Minh fired a gun at a karaoke parlor employee for allegedly refusing to "go out" with him.  Investigators found four bullets at the scene. Minh, however, claimed the gun "went off accidentally."

He was internally disciplined by police but was charged with no crime.

Minh's arrest this time also brought notoriety to a deputy head of Danang's Hai Chau district police, senior lieutenant-colonel Vo Tuong.  Tuong defended Minh in an interview with Thanh Nien, refusing to refer to Minh's weapons as "swords", saying that they "did not carry labels."

Full Report

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