A South African man who was found guilty of trafficking nearly 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) of cocaine, has been sentenced to death in Vietnam.
Coetzee Tyron Lee who was convicted in a half-day trial in a court in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, was arrested in June 2016 upon arriving at the city’s Tan Son Nhat international airport after officials found the drug in his bag.
The South African man who told investigators that he was hired by a Nigerian man to transport the drug for $3,500 which would be paid after his arrival in Vietnam, was in tears after the judge passed his judgement.
But in court he claimed the backback was not his and was only “inside my bag,” further claiming he didn’t know drug trafficking was illegal in Vietnam. He also claimed to be schizophrenic, and was granted a postponement so he could receive psychiatric testing.
“In my entire life I’ve never managed to finish reading a book or accomplish anything,” Coetzee said, adding that his schizophrenia impaired his ability to control his actions and emotions.
Coetzee had travelled from South Africa to Brazil in June 2016; he was allegedly given a black packpack by a Nigerian man identified only as Oden. He then went from Brazil to Vietnam, after a stopover in Dubai, only to be arrested with the 1.5 kilograms of cocaine at Ho Chi Minh City’s Tan Son Nhat International Airport in June 2016.
It is common knowledge that Vietnam is a country that is unforgiving about crimes related to drugs. Penalties for drug offences are pretty severe. If a person is caught with as little as 100g of any illegal drug, it is likely that they will be sentenced to death.
Currently, there are more than 20 foreigners in Vietnam prisons serving life terms, and others death, for their active participation in trying to traffick drugs into the country.