• Vietnam lawmakers ease death penalty on corruption


    HANOI: Corrupt Vietnamese officials could be spared the death penalty if they repay at least 75 percent of their ill-gotten gains, state media reported Friday, after lawmakers amended the penal code.

    The Communist country’s rubber stamp parliament lifted the death penalty from seven crimes, ranging from the military charge “surrendering to the enemy” to low level drug crimes, the VNExpress newspaper said.

    The measures approved Friday also include a revision making it possible for death penalty sentences for graft to be commuted to life in prison providing at least three quarters of the stolen assets are returned, VNExpress added.

    The Ministry of Justice had earlier sought to abolish the death penalty for corruption but provoked strong public criticism online and in state-run media.

    Vietnam has sentenced officials to death in high-profile corruption cases in the past, including two top executives at disgraced state shipping firm Vinashin. Those officials remain on death row.

    After the vote Friday, 15 crimes now carry the death penalty in the country, down from 22.

    Vietnam has been struggling with a large death row population after a two-year hiatus on executions between 2011 and 2013 as the country changed from using the firing squad to lethal injections.

    The country stopped using firing squads in July 2011 in favor of “more humane” lethal injections but was unable to import the necessary drugs due to a European Union export ban.

    In May 2013, Vietnam amended its laws to allow locally-produced chemicals to be used, and it executed its first prisoner after the two-year hiatus that August.



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