Vietnam sentences official to death for stealing drugs
( dpa ) - A court in north-western Vietnam has sentenced a law enforcement official and his cousin to death for stealing 10.7 kilograms of drugs from a police warehouse where they were held as evidence in drug-trafficking cases, an official said Wednesday.
The People's Court of Lai Chau province delivered the sentences to Vu Trong Viet, 33, and his cousin Nguyen Hong Quan, 27, at a May 30 trial, said Nguyen Quang Tan, director of the province's Justice Department.
"Viet was a civil law enforcement official of the provincial Justice Department when he was arrested," Tan said. "It is the first time that a justice official has been sentenced to death for stealing evidence from a criminal case."
According to police, the two defendants broke into the department's warehouse in October and stole 8.1 kilograms of opium and 2.6 kilograms of heroin that had been used as evidence in 39 drug-trafficking cases in the province. Lai Chau borders Laos, which is the source of much of the heroin used in Vietnam.
The drugs went missing from the department's warehouse one day before they had been scheduled to be destroyed because the cases they were used in had been completed.
"They confessed to the police that they didn't plan to use all of the drugs themselves but would sell most of them to make money," Tan said.
Possessing, trafficking or transporting 600 grams or more of heroin is punishable by death in Vietnam.
Vietnam has sentenced at least 24 people to death since the beginning of this year, including 11 for drug crimes.