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Vietnam sentences SA drug smuggler to death


A Vietnamese court has sentenced a South African man to death for smuggling cocaine from Brazil into the Southeast Asian country, according to a  state media report on Tuesday.

Tyron Lee Coetzee, thirty-four, was arrested at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat Airport in June, 2016, carrying 1.46 kg of cocaine in his luggage, the Ho Chi Minh City Law newspaper reported.

“He confessed to Vietnamese investigators that he had been hired by a Nigerian man to smuggle cocaine into Ho Chi Minh City from Brazil, via a transfer in Dubai,” the newspaper reported.

Mr. Coetzee had been offered 3,500 Dollars to carry the drugs, the newspaper added.

Reuters reported that Mr. Coetzee’s trial had begun in May last year but was temporarily suspended after the convicted  smuggler said he suffered from schizophrenia.

A group called Missing Children South Africa reported that Mr. Coetzee was “last seen on his way to Port Elizabeth” in May, 2016.

The South African Embassy in Hanoi was unable to provide any immediate comment on the case.

Drugs like marijuana are illegal yet consumed widely in Vietnam, but transporting 100 grammes or more of cocaine is a criminal offence, punishable by death.

During the first half of this year, Vietnamese authorities arrested 18,500 drug traffickers, seized 880 kg of heroin, 414 kg of methamphetamine and 1.3 tons of marijuana and opium.

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