July 28, 2005 - 6:43PM
Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today said he was hopeful
Vietnam will spare two Australians from the death penalty following
a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart.
Mr Downer met with Nguyen Dy Nien ahead of a regional security
meeting in Laos.
After the talks he said he "hopeful without being overly
optimistic" that the pair would be granted clemency by Vietnam's
"They have exercised clemency as a result of representations
that I have made on one previous occasion," he said.
A 45-year-old Australian of Vietnamese origin, Nguyen Van Chinh,
recently lost his appeal against his death sentence for trafficking
heroin in Vietnam.
Chinh was found guilty in April of buying 1.05kg of heroin to
send abroad and was sentenced to death by firing squad.
Only a presidential pardon can save him from execution.
Melbourne man Mai Cong Thanh, a 46-year-old Vietnamese
Australian, is also on death row after being sentenced to death in
Ho Chi Minh City for attempting to send nearly 2kg of heroin to
Australia stuffed in loudspeakers.
Since 1975 Vietnam has executed only one westerner.