S'porean sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Vietnam
HO CHI MINH CITY
A SINGAPOREAN has been sentenced to death in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City for trafficking 2.5kg of heroin, Vietnamese media reported.
Lee Loke Dah, now 40, was arrested at the city's Tan Son Nhat International Airport in December 2014 when he was leaving Vietnam with a plastic bag containing thousands of capsules hidden inside peanut shells and candies, reported the Thanh Nien News.
He was about to board a plane for Taiwan's Kaohsiung city.
Further tests confirmed that the capsules were heroin, said the newspaper.
According to Lee, who had entered Vietnam four days earlier, he had stolen the bag from a stranger in the hotel at Ngo Quyen Street where he stayed, not knowing that it contained a prohibited drug, reported the VnExpress news website.
He claimed it was one of two bags the man had placed next to him as he sat in the hotel lobby and he swept it into his suitcase when the man was not looking.
He then quickly caught a taxi and headed for the airport, Lee said.
But prosecutors rejected his defence, saying it was suspicious that he had contacted no one during his stay and it was not verifiable whether the stranger existed, reported the Bao Moi e-newspaper.
The court, citing other evidence, convicted Lee of illegal drug trafficking and passed the death sentence on Friday.
The drug is estimated to value more than 10 billion dong (S$603,600) in the black market.
The production or sale of 100g of heroin or 300g of other illegal narcotics is punishable by death in Vietnam.
Anyone convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600g of heroin or more than 2.5kg of methamphetamine also faces the death penalty, said the Thanh Nien News.