A Thai woman has received the death penalty in Vietnam for drug smuggling, reported state media yesterday.
Suracha Chaimongkol was sentenced by a People’s Court judge in Ho Chi Minh City to death after being caught carrying 2 kilogrammes of cocaine at the airport after landing on a flight from Brazil, according to the Thanh Nien (Youth) newspaper.
This is the second foreigner sentenced to death in the past week in Vietnam, and the second one handed to a Thai woman in the past 14 months. On Monday the same court sentenced a Nigerian man to death for carrying 3.4 kilogrammes of methamphetamines into Vietnam on a flight from Qatar.
Authorities discovered the cocaine hidden inside two photograph albums. Suracha, a 31-year-old graduate, claims she did not know drugs were in her possessions, and that she had been paid to carry the photo album into Vietnam.
Manasvi Srisodapol, a Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman, said Suracha could either appeal to the Supreme People’s Court of Vietnam within 15 days or ask for a pardon from the president of Vietnamese within seven days of the ruling date.
Mr. Manasvi also said the consulate-general in Ho Chi Minh City has sent a letter requesting Vietnamese authorities to let Thai diplomats visit Suracha to inform her of her legal rights and options.
The communist country of Vietnam has some of the harshest drugs laws in the world, and anyone convicted of smuggling over 100 grammes of cocaine or heroin can receive the death penalty. Foreigners are frequently arrested on drug charges.
Media reports say there are over 586 prisoners on death in Vietnam, and at least 117 of them have met all the criteria for immediate execution.
Earlier this month Vietnam executed its first prisoner in two years due to problems obtaining chemicals for lethal injections.
Last year, Vietnam sentenced a 23-year-old Thai woman and a 61-year-old Filipina to death on drug charges in two separate cases. Image/Bangkok Post