Police Lt. Col. Nguyen Van Ninh, who was arrested Wednesday, was accused of beating the 53-year-old man to death after he was stopped in Hanoi for failing to wear a helmet while riding on a motorbike, the state-run Thanh Nien newspaper reported.

Ninh was accused of "intentionally inflicting injuries" to others, the report said. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Hanoi police declined to comment Thursday.

State media reported that the man, who was riding on the back of the motorbike, had taken off his helmet to make a cell phone call while still on the motorbike as he reached a Hanoi bus station February 28.

He was stopped by Ninh, and the two argued about paying a fine, the online VTC News said.

Ninh used a baton to beat the man on the back of his neck, it said, adding that the man was then beaten by several security officers who were working with Ninh.

The man was taken to a police station, but officers refused to allow his family members to bring him to a hospital even though he was seriously injured, VTC News said.

Police finally put him in a truck and took him to a hospital, where he remained until dying of backbone injuries Tuesday.

In September, US-based Human Rights Watch said it had documented 19 incidents of police brutality, resulting in 15 deaths, reported by Vietnamese state media in the past year.

Last week, a court in the northern province of Bac Giang sentenced a policeman to seven years in jail for causing the death of a 21-year-old man who died while being detained for not wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike.

The Associated Press - March 12, 2011