Vietnam court spares Cambodian drug mule from execution

By Le Nga, Thanh Nien News

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Hom Kosal, 37, at the appeal trial in Ho Chi Minh City July 3. Photo: Le Nga Hom Kosal, 37, at the appeal trial in Ho Chi Minh City July 3. Photo: Le Nga

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Vietnam's top court on Thursday commuted the death sentence of a Cambodian woman convicted for trafficking more than five kilograms of methamphetamine to life in prison.
Hom Kosal, 37, was sentenced to death by a court in Ho Chi Minh City last September. She appealed the sentence, producing documents to prove that she has a child under 3 years of age.
In Vietnam, a death sentence pronounced on a woman with a child under the age of 3 will be commuted to a life sentence.
On Thursday, Kosal told judges of the Supreme People’s Court, Vietnam’s highest court, that she did not mention her child in the trial court because she was unaware of Vietnamese laws.
Kosal was arrested at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC on April 21, 2013 after police found white some powder in her checked-in suitcase and tests established that it was 5.2 kilograms of methamphetamine.
She told the court she got to know an African man during the time she worked as a waitress at a restaurant in Phnom Penh in 2011.
The man invited her to Benin, a country in West Africa, three times.
Before the third trip, he gave her US$1,300. In Benin, she met another African man named Tony.
Tony asked her to bring the suitcase from Benin to Vietnam by air and then to Cambodia by road, and promised to pay her $2,000.
Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Those convicted of 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.
Vietnam officially switched from the firing squad to lethal injection in November 2011. But it was not until last August that the country executed its first prisoner with the new method due to a shortage of the fatal serum required to carry it out.

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