Vietnam sentences Australian woman to death for heroin trafficking

An appeals court in Ho Chi Minh City has sentenced an Australian woman to death for heroin trafficking, a court official said Wednesday. Vietnam-born Jasmine Luong, 34, of Sydney, was convicted of trafficking 1.4 kilograms of heroin at the one-day trial Tuesday, the court official said on condition of anonymity, citing policy. Luong was caught with the heroin hidden in her shoes and luggage in February last year at the Ho Chi Minh City airport while preparing to board a flight to Sydney. Last December, a lower court sentenced her to life in prison, but prosecutors appealed the ruling. Luong told judges Tuesday she was hired by an unidentified man to ship the heroin to Australia for about US$15,000 and was given about US$4,700 in advance. The rest was to be paid in Australia, the court official said. Vietnam has some of the world's toughest drug laws. Possessing, trading or trafficking more than 600 grams of heroin or 20 kilograms of opium is punishable by death or life in prison.