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Taiwan authorities sentence death penalty to Belgian in 1.3kg heroin smuggling

Taiwan authorities sentence death penalty to Belgian in 1.3kg heroin smuggling

TAIPEI: A Belgian man convicted of smuggling drugs into Taiwan was sentenced by the Taipei District Court to life imprisonment.

Gunther van Eester was found guilty of entering Taiwan in November with 1.3 kilograms of heroin hidden in a compartment in his suitcase.

The Belgian, who was jobless and homeless in Thailand, had been flagged by Taiwanese investigators after he visited Taiwan twice in June as a tourist, the district court said in its ruling.

After his two short visits, van Eester returned to Bangkok and met with drug dealers, who offered him US$700 and a free return ticket to carry a suitcase to Taiwan, the court said.

On arrival in Taiwan, he was detained by the Taipei District Prosecutors Office, who found NT$10 million (US$327,000) worth of heroin in his suitcase, according to the court.

Van Eester claimed that he was helping to deliver a suitcase of clothing, the court said in its ruling, which imposed a sentence of life imprisonment on the man.

Van Eester has the right to appeal the sentence in Taiwan’s high court.