Prime Minister Hun Sen has requested clemency for two Cambodians recently given death sentences in Vietnam for drug smuggling, but a reply probably won’t come until an appeals court reviews the sentences, officials said.
The request for clemency was made by Hun Sen in a Nov 12 letter to Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Khai, according to official documents.
In his letter, Hun Sen requested Pham Van Khai to re-examine the case against Chon Ay, a 50-year-old woman, and Seng Bunly, a 48-year-old man, and reduce their death penalties to prison terms. He called the arrest of Cambodian drug smugglers in Vietnam a rare incident and noted that the Cambodian Constitution does not include the death penalty.
“On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and myself I would like to request the government of Vietnam to please examine and lighten the punishment imposed on the two persons…from death penalty to life imprisonment,” Hun Sen said in the letter.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Chum Sounry said Wednesday that a reply to Hun Sen’s request is not expected until a Vietnam appeal courts has reviewed the sentences. The death penalties against the two cannot be carried out until the appeal process—which could take months—has been concluded, he added.
Vietnamese courts sentenced 82 people to death for drug-related crimes in the first nine months of this year, The Associated Press reported.
Hun Sen’s request to Vietnam’s Pham Van Khai to intervene and save the two Cambodians also drew on the relationship between the countries.
“I firmly hope that the government of Vietnam as well as yourself will examine my request in a favorable light,” Hun Sen said in the letter. “I believe that the better future relationship and good cooperation between our two countries will be developed more strongly in the future.”