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Two drug traffickers get death penalty for Vietnam cop's murder

DATELINE: HANOI, June 12, 2002

Two Vietnamese drug traffickers have been sentenced to death for killing a policeman, local court officials said Wednesday.

Ly A Va and Va A Say, of the ethnic Hmong minority, were accused of shooting dead Lieutenant Pham Van Cuong in the northwestern province of Lai Chau in October, the official said.

A third accomplice, Sinh A Pau, was sentenced in Tuesday's hearing to 36 years in jail. Two other men were killed by the gang to get rid of any witnesses.

Lai Chau is one of the major transit points for smuggling drugs into Vietnam from neighbouring Laos despite their enhanced cooperation to combat drugs.

Last year 55 people were handed the death penalty for drug trafficking in Vietnam, compared with 85 in 2000 and 76 in 1999.