A former female student aged 23, Tran Ha Duy, who has been charged with drug trafficking, had her life sentence increased to the death penalty at an appeal hearing in Ho Chi Minh City on June 20.
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The hearing opened by the appeal court of the Supreme People’s Court in HCMC, since the Supreme People’s Procuracy had protested against the life sentence given to Duy by the City People’s Court on March 27, 2012.
The Procuracy claimed that the sentence was inappropriate in light of the nature of her crime.
According to the indictment, in October 2010, Duy, then a student at HCMC-based Hong Bang University, engaged in a transnational drug trafficking ring run by foreigners.
She later lured her younger sister, 21-year-old Tran Ha Tien, also a student, to join the ring’s activities. They were paid US$500-1,000 for each international trafficking trip.
Tien was arrested at Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC in July 2011 after being caught carrying 4 kg of methamphetamine hidden in the bottom of a suitcase from Doha, Qatar. After Tien’s arrest, Duy surrendered herself to police.
Duy confessed that in 2007 she happened to meet a Kenyan man, named Francis, on a bus in HCMC. The man later suggested that Duy deliver sample goods, including garments and footwear, from Vietnam to other countries for his company, which would pay her US$1,000 for a delivery to Benin, a West African country, and $500 for delivery to Malaysia.
Francis said he would pay for all expenses related to Duy’s trips abroad. She said that after taking a few trips she knew that drugs had been hidden in the goods sent from Vietnam, but she continued working for Francis to enjoy the high reimbursements.
At the first instance hearing, Duy and Tien told the court that they had decided to work for the drug ring since they wanted money for their daily needs.
Tien was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, and the sentence met no protest from the Supreme People’s Procuracy.