A Ho Chi Minh City court on Monday sentenced a mother of three to 12 years in prison for attempting to smuggle a four-year-old boy to China for sale to an infertile couple.
Nguyen Thi Ngoc Huong, 39, a native of the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, was also ordered to compensate her victim’s family and pay a fine.
All told, she'll pay more than VND30 million (US$1,410) for her crime in addition to serving her jail sentence.
At the trial, Huong confessed to marrying a Chinese man and migrating to Fujian province in 2011.
She had three children before getting divorced and working as a day laborer in China. After hearing that many rich families were willing to buy a child for VND60-100 million, she returned to Vietnam.
In mid-October of last year, she headed to Tu Du Hospital, a major maternity hospital in HCMC, hoping to buy or kidnap a child.
There, Huong struck a deal to purchase a woman's unborn child. After giving birth, the woman had a change of heart and refused the deal on October 24, 2013.
Desperate, Huong kidnapped four-year-old Nguyen Tan Thien Bao who was wandering, unattended, down the hospital stairs.
To get the boy to cooperate, Huong promised to buy him toys and clothes at a nearby market.
Instead, she took him to the Mien Dong Bus Station where she bought two tickets to Hanoi.
On October 26, 2013, she was arrested by police in Hanoi's Phu Xuyen District.
Passengers on the bus told them they believed she'd kidnapped the boy because he'd been crying out for his mother.
Police returned the boy to Nguyen Thi Thuy of the southern coastal province of Ba Ria Vung Tau, who had taken her son to the hospital for a routine examination.
Huong’s youngest child was only nine months old when she committed the crime.
She was found guilty of “trading, fraudulently exchanging or appropriating children” which carries a jail terms from 10-15 years.
Under Vietnamese laws, those who successfully smuggle a child abroad risk spending life in prison.