South African sentenced to death in Vietnam for cocaine trafficking

Picture: Twitter.

Picture: Twitter.

Tyron Lee Coetzee’s attempts to argue his actions were impaired by his schizophrenia and he didn’t know drug trafficking was illegal in Vietnam were unsuccessful.

A South African Man, Tyron Lee Coetzee, has been sentenced to death after a Vietnamese court found him guilty of attempting to traffic almost 1.5kg of cocaine.

The Ho Chi Minh City Law confirmed the conviction after a half-day trial in Vietnam’s capital.

A story in Vietnamese online newspaper VnExpress in May 2017 reported that Coetzee’s trial had been postponed pending a psychiatric assessment.

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 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.

READ MORE: Customs officials catch woman trying to smuggle heroin

Coetzee admitted he had agreed to smuggle the drugs for a cash fee of almost R50,000 to be paid upon his arrival in Ho Chi Minh City.

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.

Whether Coetzee’s claims of schizophrenia were legitimate is unclear.

Vietnam, where possession of 100g or more of heroin or cocaine is punishable by death, is known for having drug laws that are among the toughest in the world.

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