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Court punishes 24 for illegal gambling

A Vietnamese court jailed or handed suspended prison terms to 24 people for gambling, including three Malaysians who were tried in absentia and a Vietnamese-American man, state media said.

world Updated: Jan 15, 2009 09:55 IST

A Vietnamese court jailed or handed suspended prison terms to 24 people for gambling, including three Malaysians who were tried in absentia and a Vietnamese-American man, state media said on Thursday.

Police in May 2007 detained more than 100 people when they raided three hotel casinos in Ho Chi Minh City, which under the communist country's law are open to foreign passport holders but off-limits to Vietnamese citizens.

In sentencing Wednesday, Vietnamese-American Timmy Hua Quan was allowed to walk free after the more than six months he spent in jail pending trial were taken into consideration, said the VietnamNet online newspaper.

The court also handed jail terms of two to five years to the Malaysian trio, even though they had skipped bail and fled Vietnam, said the Tuoi Tre daily, naming them as Lim Leong Seng, Goh Ming Huat and Chan Chee Sing.

The Ho Chi Minh City People's Court also jailed five Vietnamese for up to three years and handed suspended prison terms to 15 more, the reports said.

Court officials declined to give details on the two-day trial.

Vietnam bans its citizens from all forms of gambling -- which it considers one of three "social evils" along with general crime and prostitution -- but allows several casinos and gambling venues for foreigners.

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