The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court sentenced a Nigerian man to death and his Vietnamese wife to life imprisonment, on Tuesday (March 22), for transporting heroin from Cambodia to Vietnam.
According to the indictment, Michael Ikenna Nduanya, 34, and his 27-year-old wife Nguyen Thi Hai Anh (of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak) joined a drug trafficking ring three years ago.
The couple met in 2008 when Michael came to Vietnam to find a job. They lived together and had a child.
Shortly after their wedding, a group of Africans enlisted them to help move heroin from India to China, according to Nduanya's testimony.
The Nigerian national told the court he had been hired to transport the drugs from Cambodia to Vietnam and received $1,000 for each trip he took.
He said he had asked his wife to transfer the drugs north, through Vietnam, because he lacked official papers.
On December 9, 2009, Hai Anh was arrested at the Mien Dong Bus Station in HCMC. Police say she was carrying more than 988 grams of heroin on a bus bound for Hanoi.
Anh confessed that she had brought the drugs from Cambodia to Vietnam, three days earlier and that she had made the same run on four prior occasions.
Anh's sentence was reduced from death to life in prison due to the fact that she committed her crime during pregnancy.
Under Vietnamese law, pregnant women are eligible to have their execution orders reduced to life in prison.
Those convicted of possessing trading or transporting up to 100 grams of heroin or cocaine are considered capital offenses.
Nduanya is the third person to be sentenced to death in Vietnam this year, according to state-controlled media reports tallied by AFP. There were 80 death sentences and four executions last year, according to the tally.
Under a decision by Vietnam's National Assembly, execution by lethal injection is to replace the firing squad on July 1 this year.