PEOPLE’S COURT OF THANH HOA PROVINCE
VERDICT NO. 53/2017/HSST DATED AUGUST 22, 2017 ON ILLEGAL NARCOTICS TRADING
The first instance trial court was conducted at the head office of People's Court of Thanh Hoa province on August 22, 2017 to hear the criminal case No.59/2017/HSST dated July 13, 2017 of the following accused:
Nang M - year of birth: 1991 (other names: Nang K)
Homeland: V village, Long K cluster, Sam T district, Houaphanh province, Lao People’s Democratic Republic;
Current residence: X Village, Muong P cluster, Vieng X district, Houaphanh, Lao People's Democratic Republic;
Nationality: Laos; Ethnic group: Lao Loum; Educational level: proficiency in writing Lao language; Occupation: slash-and-burn
Previous conviction/administration penalties: none;
Father: Mr. Thoong D; mother: Nang B; husband: Mr. Ut T;
Having 2 children in which the elder was born in 2010 and the youngest was born in 2013; Having been taken in custody from April 21, 2017. Present
* Interpreter: Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Chuan – retired officer. Present
The defendant (Nang M) was prosecuted for the following violation by Thanh Hoa province People's Procuracy:
The Border Defence Force, in cooperation with the Customs Sub-department of Na M international border checkpoint, Na M commune, Quan S district, Thanh Hoa province, found and caught two offenders - Nang M and Nang S, who both reside in X village, Muong Pursuant to cluster, Vieng X district, Huoaphanh province, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, in the act of transporting poppy pods from Laos to Vietnam for sale purpose at 17:20 on April 20, 2017 at Na Meo international border checkpoint control station.
Material evidence collected includes:
- From Nang M: 1 (one) black nylon bag on Nang M’s hand which contains slashed grey pods with different sizes and 1 (one) white PP woven bag inside the neohouzeaua papoose on the back of Nang M which contains slashed grey pods with different sizes that are suspected to be the poppy pods; 1 (one) used HMmobile Unitel mobile phone.
- From Nang S: 1 (one) blue PP woven bag inside the neohouzeaua papoose on Nang S's back which contains slashed grey pods with different sizes that are suspected to be poppy pods.
The examination result report No.1102/MT-PC54 dated April 24, 2017 provided by the Criminal Techniques Department of Thanh Hoa province Public Security Force showed that: “Slashed grey pods with different sizes carried by Nang S’s papoose weighing 4.5 kg in total and those inside a papoose on the back of Nang M and 1 (one) black nylon bag on Nang M‘s hand weighing 6.3 kg in total are poppy pods.”
Statements of Nang M and Nang S:
At around 8 o’clock on April 21, 2017, Nang M received a call from a strange woman who called herself as C, living in Na M village, Na M commune, Quan S district, Thanh Hoa province, Socialist Republic of Vietnam while she was picking bamboo sprouts near Him P village, Nam N cluster, Vieng X district, Huoaphanh province, Lao People's Democratic Republic: “Do you have dried poppy pods? If yes, bring them to Na Meo village of Vietnam and sell to Chuc with the price of 20,000 Lao Kips/kg of poor pods and 50,000 Lao Kips/kg of good pods.” said Ms. C. And Nang M accepted her request.
Then Nang M went to the mountain field of a Moong-Laotian man (his name, age and address was unknown) to ask for a bag of dried poppy pods. After that, Nang M removed the stem of theses pods and brought them home, then divided them into one blue PP woven bag, one white PP woven bag and one black nylon bag.
By 14 pm that day, finding that Nang S - her mother in law, was about to go to the market at Na M border checkpoint, Nang M asked for a ride. Nang M aimed to bring all of these poppy pods to Na M village of Vietnam to sell them to the person called C who had contacted her that morning. Nang M put the blue PP woven bag containing the poppy pods into Nang S's papoose and the white PP woven bag and black nylon bag into her papoose. Then she and her mother in law went to Na M international border checkpoint market on a motorbike ridden by Nang M. On the way to the market, Nang S asked Nang M: "What are in my papoose?" Nang M answered that "They are dried poppy pods.” and saying no more. When riding near the border checkpoint, they parked the motorbike and walked to Na M market. By the time reaching the international Na M border checkpoint, Na M village, Na M commune, Quan S district, Thanh Hoa province, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, they was stopped by the Border Defence Force and force of Customs Sub-department of international Nam M border checkpoint for checking purpose. After inspection, they were caught with material evidence.
In case of Nang S, after investigation, she was found to be Nang M's mother in law, born in 1962, living at Village X, Muong P cluster, Vieng X district, Huoaphanh province, Lao People's Democratic Republic. Although she, together with Nang M illegally transported poppy pods to Vietnam, she had not known that Nang M brought these pods to Vietnam for sale. Moreover, the weight of dried poppy pods in her bag was 4.5 kg in total, not quantitative enough to prosecute her for illegally transporting narcotics as prescribed in Article 149 of the Criminal Code. As for that reason, administrative penalties imposed on Nang S for this act by Investigation Agency affiliated to the People's Public Security Force of Q district was considered conformable.
In case of the woman calling to ask for poppy pods from Nang M who called herself C, living in Na M village, Na M commune, Quan S district but having never meet each other: The Investigation Agency (PC47) affiliated to Public Security of Thanh Hoa province conducted an investigation to find out her identity then summoned Nguyen Thi Q and her husband – Nguyen Tho C to ask about the case. However, they both claimed that they did not know Nang M (Nang K) and had not called to ask for poppy pods as stated by Nang M. As for that reason, there are not enough legal grounds for taking legal actions against Nguyen Tho C and Nguyen Thi Q.
There are no legal grounds for verifying the origin of poppy pods asked from a Moong-Laotian man as Nang M did not know his identity as well as residence place.
According to indictment No.24/CT- KSDT-MT dated July 12, 2017 of Thanh Hoa province People’s Procuracy: Nang M was accused of illegally trading narcotics pursuant to Point dd Clause 2 Article 194 of the Criminal Code.
At the court hearing, the representative of Thanh Hoa province People's Procuracy decided to prosecute the accused for the act committed as specified in the indictment and recommended a 2-3-year sentence on the accused for illegal trade in narcotics and seized to destroy the number of narcotics having undergone assessment, seized the mobile phone of the accused to put into the state treasury.
Pursuant to documents and evidence verified at the court hearing and according to the result of the debate taking place at the court hearing and upon complete and comprehensive consideration of opinions provided by the accused and the procurator.
The investigation result showed that: At 17:20 on April 21, 2017, the Border Defence Force, in cooperation with Customs Sub-department of Na M international border checkpoint, discovered and caught Nang M in the act of transporting poppy pods from Laos to Vietnam for sale. Total weight of these poppy pods determined through assessment is 10.8 kg.
At the court hearing, the statements of the accused were found consistent to documents and evidence gathered during investigation and material evidence seized.
In this case, the act of transporting dried poppy pods from Laos to Vietnam for illegal sale committed by the accused is claimed to be border-crossing narcotics trading.
Pursuant to Point dd Clause 2 Article 194 of the Criminal Code, the jury concluded that the accused has committed the act of illegally narcotics trading.
Considering the case's nature: This is a serious case of illegal narcotics trading. The accused is a foreigner and knows that the act of narcotics trading is against Vietnam's laws and wields evil influence upon the society and that she will incur severe penalties if being caught; however; since desiring for personal interests and defying laws, she still transported poppy pods from Laos to Vietnam for illegal profit.
The illegal act committed by Nang M has posed a danger to the society and violated the exclusive policy on narcotics management of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam; caused harm to social order and security. As for that reason, the accused is required to be isolated from the society for a limited period for re-education and deterrence from relapse.
However; the jury decided to mitigate the penalty on the accused owing to her sincere statements, repentance, small quantity of narcotics and limited awareness of Vietnam’s laws as she is a foreigner. According to the statement of the chief of X village and the Secretary of Party Committee of Nam P cluster, Vieng X district, Huoaphanh province in which the accused is residing, her family was claimed to live in poverty and her children are still young. Thus, she was imposed a penalty under the lowest rate of penalty in the penalty framework specified in Article 47 of the Criminal Code for the purpose of indicating the tolerance of Vietnam's laws and reassuring the accused so that she could focus on the re-education then soon come back to the family and society.
Non-imposition of additional penalties on the accused due to her trivial mercenary motive and foreign nationality is found conformable.
Material evidence includes: Material evidence and property collected from the accused and kept at Thanh Hoa Civil Judgment enforcement Department (according to the record of material evidence transfer No.73 dated June 27, 2017) comprised of the post-assessment narcotics with security seal and fan-stamped by the Criminal Techniques Division of Thanh Hoa province Public Security to be destroyed; 1 mobile phone seized from the accused which was the means of communications for committing illegal act to be put into the State treasury.
Pursuant to documents and evidence mentioned above
Hereby judges: Nang M is guilty of illegal narcotics trading.
Pursuant to: Point dd Clause 2 Article 149; Point p Clause 1 and 2 Article 46; Article 47 and 33 of the Criminal Code
Impose a 3-year prison sentence on Nang M. Period of sentence serving begins from April 21, 2017.
- Seize and destroy the narcotics having undergone assessment (attached with security seal and fan-stamped by the Criminal Techniques Division of Thanh Hoa Public Security)
- Seize 1 mobile phone of Nang M to put in the State treasury
(The aforementioned material evidence and property are being kept at Thanh Hoa Civil Judgment Enforcement Department according to the record of material evidence transfer No.73 dated June 27, 2017)
In terms of court fees: The accused shall pay VND 200,000 for first instance criminal court fee.
The verdict debtor may voluntarily enforce the judgment or subject to coercive judgment enforcement order in compliance with regulations in Article 9 of the Law on Civil Judgment Enforcement; period of prescription for judgment enforcement shall comply with regulations provided in Article 30 of the Law on Civil Judgment Enforcement.
The accused may file an appeal against the first instance verdict within 15 days from the day on which it is passed./.