State-run Tuoi Tre newspaper said Saturday that the five were convicted in Ho Chi Minh City of trafficking 7 kilograms (15 pounds) of heroin from neighboring Cambodia to Vietnam.

he newspaper said three others received life imprisonment on the same charges at the end of the three-day trial by Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court on Friday.

The court also handed down jail terms ranging from seven to 20 years against six other defendants.

About 100 people are sentenced to death each year for drug-related offenses in Vietnam, where trafficking or possessing 1.3 pounds (600 grams) of heroin is punishable by death.

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The Associated Press - December 31, 2011


Vietnam condemns five drug smugglers to death

HANOI — Vietnam has sentenced five men to death for smuggling heroin into the country from Cambodia, state media reported on Saturday.

The men, aged between 30 and 40, were condemned by a Ho Chi Minh City court after they were found guilty of trafficking a total of seven kilograms of the drug between 2001 and 2010, Communist Party daily Nhan Dan said.

Three other men were sentenced to life, while a further six people received jail terms of between seven and 20 years, after a three-day trial which ended on Friday.

Communist Vietnam's drug laws are among the world's harshest. Anyone found guilty of possessing more than 600 grams of heroin, or more than 20 kilograms of opium, faces the death penalty.

Executions were carried out by firing squad until July this year, when the country announced it would instead use lethal injection.

At least 69 people were sentenced to death in Vietnam in 2011, including 27 for drug smuggling, according to an AFP tally compiled from figures in state media.

There are no government statistics, but the official press has reported five executions since the beginning of the year.

Heroin is the most commonly used illicit drug in the country of about 86 million people, the United Nations has said. Government figures issued last year showed the country had about 150,000 drug addicts.

Agence France Presse - December 31, 2011