An appeal court in Ho Chi Minh City Tuesday overturned the death sentence awarded to a Filipina drug runner and instead handed down a life sentence after new investigation found she had carried much less cocaine than previously thought.
Donna Buena Mazon, 41, was arrested at Tan Son Nhat Airport in December 2013 with two bags of drug powder after arriving by a flight from Brazil.
The HCMC police later identified the powder as nearly 1.5 kilograms of cocaine.
She was sentenced to death but appealed, saying she had no idea there was cocaine inside. She said a man had hired her to carry the suitcase to Vietnam for a fee of US$3,000 and that, as a mother of four, she needed the money.
But her appeal was rejected. She then filed another appeal for commuting the sentence, and the Supreme People’s Court ordered investigators to measure the quantity of drugs again.
A fresh check found the bags contained less than 600 grams of cocaine.
The Philippine foreign ministry had pleaded with the supreme court to reduce her sentence.
Vietnam has some of the world’s toughest drug laws. Those convicted of smuggling more than 600 grams of heroin or cocaine can 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.