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Sep 22, 2007

In the name of PROHIBITION...


Four more people have been sentenced to death for drug trafficking offenses in Vietnam in the past week. Meanwhile, Iran reported that it had executed 17 drug traffickers earlier this month.

Under Vietnamese law, anyone convicted of possessing or trafficking more than 600 grams (about 1 ¼ pounds) of heroin or 44 pounds of opium is eligible for the death penalty. Under Iranian law drug trafficking is one of numerous offenses that can garner the death penalty.

In Hanoi People's Court on September 14, three members of the same extended family were sentenced to death for trafficking four pounds of heroin. Two other members of the organization received life sentences, while four others received sentences ranging from 10 months to 20 years. All were convicted of bringing heroin from northern mountainous Son La province to Hanoi between June and August of 2006.

On Tuesday, the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court announced it had sentenced a 40-year-old Australian citizen to death for heroin trafficking. Nguyen Hong Viet was arrested at the Ho Chi Minh City airport with nearly 950 grams of heroin in his clothing as he waited to board a flight to Sydney. Viet told police he was paid $10,000 to carry the drugs to Australia.

"Prosecutors find that with the amount of heroin trafficked, the defendant deserved the highest and most severe punishment so that society can prevent this crime and have educational impact on others," the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court said in a statement.

Viet is one of at least five Australians of Vietnamese descent who have been sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Vietnam. None have yet been executed.

Meanwhile, Iranian state television tersely announced another round of executions. "After legal procedures, 17 individuals were hanged on the charges of drug smuggling in Khorasan Razavi province this morning," the official outlet reported, on September 5.

Along with Iran and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East, Vietnam and its Southeast Asian neighbors Malaysia and Singapore are world leaders in executing drug offenders.

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