Five people, including a woman, received death sentences Monday for trafficking in drugs, the Hanoi people's court announced.
The five were convicted after a trial of 28 people, including 13 women, accused of being part of the most extensive drug network that was smashed in Vietnam in recent years.
Six accused, three of them women, received life terms in jail, a court official said.
The network had trafficked some 35 kilograms (75 pounds) of heroin from 1996 to 1999 in several northern Vietnamese provinces and cities.
Under a 1997 law, anyone convicted of trafficking 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of heroin or five kilograms (11 pounds) of opium gets the death penalty.
Last week, a United States national of Vietnamese origin was handed the death penalty for possessing 1.6 kilograms of heroin. The sentence came just days after the historic visit of President Bill Clinton.
The execution of a Canadian national on drug charges here in April sparked a diplomatic row with Ottawa.
Vietnamese-born Nguyen Thi Hiep was the first holder of a Western passport to face the death penalty here.
Canadian officials accused the Vietnamese authorities of pressing ahead with her execution without taking into account evidence she had been set up.
Her mother, who was jailed for life at the same trial, was later freed by the Vietnamese authorities in a deal with Ottawa.
Vietnam's widespread use of executions has attracted mounting criticism from human rights groups.
More than 90 people have been sentenced to death for drug trafficking here so far this year against 76 last year and 58 in 1998.
But the Vietnamese parliament is due to discuss further toughening the drugs laws in its current session which ends next month.
The government blames an influx of cheap opium and heroin from neighboring Laos and the other poppy-growing Golden Triangle countries of Myanamr and Thailand for the mounting spread of HIV -- HANOI (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)