3 face death in Malaysia drug case
Kuala Lumpur - Two Germans and a Moroccan man are facing the death penalty on charges of smuggling more than 10kg of methamphetamine into Malaysia, known for its strict anti-drug laws.
A district court near the Kuala Lumpur International Airport charged the three men on January 13 with drug trafficking, said a customs official who declined to be named.
Airport officials arrested the men arriving from Istanbul on January 1 after finding 10.2kg of methamphetamine hidden in the bags they were carrying, the official said on Wednesday.
He said no plea had been recorded from the three pending the case's transfer to a high court once a chemist report on the drugs is ready.
The two Germans have parents from Afghanistan but were born in Germany, while the Moroccan has lived in Germany for 15 years, the official said.
Authorities in the Southeast Asian country went on "red alert" late last year following a surge in arrests and drug seizures, tightening passenger and luggage screening.
Despite Malaysia's strict laws - death by hanging is the mandatory penalty for drug trafficking convictions - Kuala Lumpur airport authorities last year seized about 195kg of drugs and held more than 30 people.
Smugglers have traditionally arrived from Africa and the Middle East but are increasingly coming from countries such as Turkey and the Philippines, according to officials.
A high court sentenced a 23-year-old Iranian mechanic to death on Monday for trafficking 1.4kg of methamphetamine two years ago, according to the official Bernama news agency.
Several other Europeans, including two from Britain, one from the Netherlands and one from France, were arrested in drug raids in Malaysia and charged with trafficking in November.
In October, a Malaysian court sentenced a Japanese woman to death for smuggling methamphetamine into the country in what officials said was the first such case involving a citizen of Japan.