A Vietnamese court has sentenced four policemen to up to 17 years in prison for beating a suspect to death, in an unusually harsh punishment for police brutality.

The online newspaper VnExpress said the Hanoi People's Court convicted the deputy police chief of Kim No village outside Hanoi of murder on Thursday and sentenced him to 17 years in prison. Three other police in the village were sentenced to eight to 16 years on the same charge.

The four were charged with beating to death a man in August 2012. The court said the man was detained at the police station on suspicion of assaulting a neighbor, and his hands and feet were handcuffed to a chair while he was repeatedly beaten with a rubber club.