Australian national escapes death for heroin smuggling in Vietnam

By Hai Duyen   November 20, 2016 | 11:51 pm PT
Australian national escapes death for heroin smuggling in Vietnam
Nguyen Thi Huong at an appeal court in HCMC on Monday for heroin smuggling attempt. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
The appeal court reduced the 73-year-old's sentence to life in jail, saying she cooperated during the investigation.

A Vietnamese-Australian woman convicted of attempting to smuggle 1.6 kilograms of heroin from Ho Chi Minh City to Sydney had her death sentence commuted to life at an appeal trial on Monday.

The appeal court in Ho Chi Minh City said Nguyen Thi Huong, 73, earned the commutation for being honest and showing remorse during the investigation. The fact that she is old may have also been taken into consideration.

Huong was arrested at Tan Son Nhat Airport with the heroin hidden in soap bars in December 2014. She was checking in for a flight to Sydney.

She said she had visited Vietnam a month earlier and a Thai woman from HCMC’s neighboring province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau gave her the soap to carry to Australia.

She said she did not know anything about the drugs, which were worth around VND10 billion ($443,200).

In June, the HCMC People’s Court decided to hold her fully responsible.

Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine face the death penalty.

The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.

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