Vietnam executes HK heroin smuggler

A HONG KONG heroin smuggler has been executed by firing squad in Vietnam after spending more than two years on death row and despite numerous pleas by the Hong Kong and British governments.

Wong Chi-shing, 34, is believed to be the first foreigner executed for narcotics smuggling since it was made a capital offence in 1992.

He was executed at Chi Hoa prison in Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday after a visit from his mother. She will look after his two children.

He was cremated and his mother was expected to return to the territory with his ashes this week.

Wong was arrested in Ho Chi Minh City in March 1993 en route from Bangkok with five kilograms of heroin on his way to Germany. He was convicted two months later.

President Le Duc Anh rejected an appeal, said Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan.

British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd appealed to Hanoi in October 1993 for clemency, a request repeated several times by officials.

The British Embassy in Hanoi submitted a final plea for clemency to the Vietnamese Government on June 3.

The Foreign Office said yesterday it 'very much regretted' the execution.

Nhan Dan said: 'Wong Chi-shing's offence not only violates Vietnam's criminal code, but it also is a dangerous international offence. The execution of [his] death sentence demonstrates the strict and clear character of Vietnamese laws.' Vietnam faces a growing drug problem and increasing use by international smugglers as a transit route to the West from the 'Golden Triangle' opium-growing zone where Burma, Laos and Thailand join.

News of Wong's execution came as another Hong Kong man was sentenced to death in Taiwan after being found guilty of trying to sell eight kilograms of heroin.

Chen Lung-chieh, with Singaporean Hung Ting Ping, was said to be a member of an international drug ring.

They were arrested in Taipei last September attempting to sell heroin to two locals who were sentenced to jail terms.