4 Vietnamese jailed for smuggling migrants to Australia

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A court in the southeastern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Tuesday handed down jail sentences of 18 months to four years to four people convicted of organizing illegal emigration services to Vietnamese nationals seeking to go to Australia.


Nguyen Dinh Kinh, 47, got four years, while Pham Van Tuong, 59, was sentenced two and a half years in prison.


Tran Van Gioi, 47, and Nguyen Ngoc Loi, 43, received three and a half years and one and a half years, respectively.


The indictment said that Tuong had collaborated with Kinh to smuggle people out of Vietnam in April last year, sending six to Australia by boat before his service was busted by local coast guards on June 24.


Loi was paid VND500 million (US$24,000) to captain the ship for the second trip.


On the evening of June 24, 2012, local police and coast guards arrested the group and 25 clients as the ship was about to set sail from a local port.


Investigations found that the group's initial clients were charged $6,000, but that the fee was later raised to between $8,000 and $13,000. Many of the emigrants came from Tuong's hometown in the north-central province of Nghe An and neighboring Ha Tinh Province.


Investigators also found that Kinh and Gioi had attempted to organize another voyage in early May of last year that would have sent around 50 people to Australia, but which failed.


On May 2, their ship set off from the coastal town of Vung Tau but due to rough seas had to take shelter at an Indonesian island port, where it was seized by Indonesian authorities.

Australia is a popular destination for migrants from across Southeast Asia who make perilous journeys in often rickety, overloaded boats to reach its shores, according to AFP.


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