Australian man gets life sentence in Vietnam for smuggling heroin

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Nathan Andrew James stands trial in Ho Chi Minh City May 30 for drug smuggling. Photo: Tuyet Mai/Tuoi Tre Nathan Andrew James stands trial in Ho Chi Minh City May 30 for drug smuggling. Photo: Tuyet Mai/Tuoi Tre

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A court in Ho Chi Minh City on Monday sentenced an Australian man to life in prison for attempting to smuggle 3.5 kilograms of heroin from the city to Sydney.
Nathan Andrew James, 34, was arrested at Tan Son Nhat Airport in October 2013 while checking in for a flight to Sydney. Customs officers found the drug hidden in his luggage.
According to the indictment, James was asked by a Tim to carry the drug to Australia to clear his debt. Tim is still at large.
James could have been sentenced to death, but the court took his restricted cognitive capability into consideration, local media reported. 
In another case on the same day, Nguyen Thanh Hai, 23, was sentenced to death. He was caught with one kilogram of heroin in March 2014.
Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Those convicted of possessing or smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine face the death penalty.
The production or sale of 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics is also punishable by death.

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