Updated: 06/28/2014 15:18 | By Agence France-Presse

Australian given death penalty in Vietnam for heroin smuggling

An Australian of Vietnamese origin has been given the death penalty after trying to smuggle four kilograms (8.8 lbs) of heroin out of the country, state media in the communist nation said Saturday.


Australian given death penalty in Vietnam for heroin smuggling

This file photo shows heroin, seized by Ho Chi Minh City's Tan Son Nhat Int'l Airport customs officials, on October 23, 2013

Pham Trung Dung, 37, was caught with two suitcases containing the heroin at Tan Son Nhat airport in May last year while trying to return to Australia with his wife and children.

Dung told a court in southern Ho Chi Minh City that he had been promised $40,000 by two unidentified men to transport the drugs, an online report on Tien Phong newspaper said.

Vietnam has some of the world's toughest anti-drug laws. Anyone found guilty of possessing more than 600 grams (20 ounces) of heroin, or more than 20 kilos of opium, can face death.

Earlier this month, six people from a 25-stong smuggling gang were given death sentences for smuggling 620 kilos of heroin and 1,400 ectasy pills in northern provinces.

While in January authorities sentenced 30 smugglers to death in the country's largest ever narcotics case, involving scores of defendants and nearly two tonnes of heroin.

According to media reports and an AFP tally, Vietnam currently has more than 700 prisoners on death row.

Many have been sentenced for drug offences including dozens of foreigners -- although it has been decades since a foreign citizen was executed.

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