Vietnam sentences Australian heroin trafficker to death
HANOI — An appeal court in Vietnam has sentenced an Vietnamese-Australian woman to death for heroin trafficking after prosecutors appealed against her original life sentence, a court clerk said Wednesday.
Jasmine Luong, 34, was handed the death penalty on Tuesday by the court in Ho Chi Minh City, he said on condition of anonymity.
Luong, who was born in Vietnam, was arrested at Tan Son Nhat airport outside Ho Chi Minh City in February last year as she preparing to fly to Sydney with nearly 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) of heroin, according to a police source.
"She had been hired to transport those heroin packs, hidden in her luggage and shoes," the source said.
Several Australians of Vietnamese origin have been arrested over the past few years for trafficking heroin from Ho Chi Minh City to Australia. Of those, some were given life imprisonment or the death penalty.
However, foreigners are rarely executed in the communist state, usually after intense diplomatic pressure from Western governments.
Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Those caught with more than 600 grams of heroin or 20 kilograms of opium face the death penalty.
At least 104 people were sentenced to death in Vietnam last year, and 12 since the beginning of the year, according to figures compiled by AFP from state media and Vietnamese officials.
Agence France Presse - March 19, 2008.