Vietnam court sentences Nigerian man to death for drug trafficking

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A Ho Chi Minh City court Monday sentenced a Nigerian man to death for smuggling more than 3.4 kilograms of methamphetamine from Thailand into Vietnam in 2012.

Ejiogu Benjamin Ikechukwu has smuggled a large quantity of drugs and the crime is considered "extremely serious", the court said.

Ikechukwu was arrested on June 23, 2012 when he was entering Vietnam through the Tan Son Nhat International Airport, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported.

Customs officers found he had hidden the methamphetamine inside 16 metal cylinders and a laptop adapter.

He confessed he was transporting the cylinders and adapter for a man named Onyekachi, who is still at large. This man told him that some one would find him to receive the consignment.

In Vietnam, which has some of the world's toughest drug laws, death is stipulated as a punishment for those convicted of smuggling more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine.

Those convicted of producing or selling 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics can also face the death penalty.

Last October, Vietnam sentenced a 61-year-old Filipina to death after she was caught smuggling five kilograms (11 pounds) of methamphetamine into the country.

In June 2012, a Ho Chi Minh City court handed down the death penalty to a 23-year-old female student from Thailand for trafficking three kilograms of methamphetamine from Benin to Vietnam.

Death penalty statistics are not released in Vietnam, but the punishment is handed down most frequently to those convicted of murder or drug-trafficking. 

Vietnam officially switched from the firing squad to lethal injection  in November 2011.

However, a lack of lethal injection doses led to a delay of executions because the original decree stipulated that the drugs be imported from the European Union (EU).

The EU banned the exportation of lethal injection drugs because it regards capital punishment to be a violation of human rights.

The Vietnamese government later amended the decree, which took effect on June 27, allowing domestic-made drugs.

Last August, Vietnam executed its first prisoner by lethal injection , ending a two-year pause in capital punishment.

There are currently 586 people on the death row in the country.

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