Prisoner of Conscience Nguyen Nam Phong Says He Was Beaten in Pre-trial Detention

Prisoner of conscience Nguyen Nam Phong in his trial on Feb 6, 2018

Defend the Defenders, May 10, 2018

Prisoner of conscience Nguyen Nam Phong has said that he was beaten many times by other inmates during his pre-trial detention.

Phong, a driver for Catholic priest Nguyen Dinh Thuc from Dien Chau district, Nghe An province told his family that during his pre-trial detention in Nghi Kim temporary detention facility under the authority of the province’s Department of Public Security, he had to share the same cell with criminals who repeatedly assaulted him.

It is likely that the attacks were reprisal of his activities.

Phong was arrested on November 27 last year on allegation of “resisting on-duty state officials” under Article 330 of the country’s 1999 Penal Code just because of refusing to open his car when plainclothes agents tried to arrest human rights defender and labor activist Hoang Duc Binh on May 15, 2017.

Binh was also repeatedly beaten by criminal suspects during his pre-trial detention from the mid-May of last year until early February this year.

On February 6 this year, the People’s Court of Dien Chau district convicted him and sentenced him to two years in prison while Binh was given 14 years in jail.

During the trial which lasted one day, Phong did not have a courage to tell the torture he suffered, fearing that he could be beaten more. He likely had not tell his lawyer about this.

Due to the assaults, Phong feels great pain in his head, according to his family.

The torture ended when he was transferred to Xuan Ha prison camp in the neighbor province of Ha Tinh.

Last month, his father passed away but he had not been informed. He knew the bad news when he called his family from the current prison.

Mr. Phong, who escored priest Thuc when the father assisted Formosa-affected fishermen in seeking justice, is considered as prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International as well as the coaliation of 14 international NGOs, including BPSOS, Defend the Defenders and Civil Rights Defenders.