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Vietnam Drug Trial Ends in Eight Death Sentences


July 1997

Four police officers, two border guards, and two other persons were sentenced to death by a Vietnam court for organizing a heroin smuggling ring that involved the Interior Ministry's law enforcement agencies. Twenty-two defendants were found guilty and given sentences ranging from one year to death before a firing squad. The defendants, who were presumed guilty before trial in keeping with Vietnamese criminal law, helped to transport hundreds of pounds of heroin from Laos into Vietnam. Vietnam hoped to use the trial to publicize its war on drugs ("Eight Sentence to Die In Vietnam Drug Trial," Washington Post, May 15, 1997, p. A26; "8 sentenced to death for drug smuggling; prison terms for 14," Chicago Tribune, May 15, 1997, sec. 1, p. 6).