HANOI - A Vietnamese court on Friday sentenced a cosmetic surgeon to 19 years in jail for throwing the body of a patient who died during a botched operation into a river.
Le Thi Thanh Huyen, 37, died in October 2013 after undergoing liposuction and a breast augmentation operation at the private Cat Tuong Clinic in Hanoi, despite efforts by the centre's staff to revive her.
Police said doctor Nguyen Manh Tuong dumped her body in the Vietnamese capital's main river, with the help of a clinic security guard.
Her headless corpse was pulled from the river in July this year and identified by DNA tests.
Tuong was jailed for "violating regulations of medical care" and mistreating the body of the victim, the court heard.
"I feel remorse, I repent and I want to apologise to the family of the victim," the doctor told the court.
Tuong worked at the well-respected state-run Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi and also ran the Cat Tuong Beauty Salon, offering cosmetic surgery.
The clinic had a business licence but no permit to carry out cosmetic surgery. It has since been shut down.
The victim's husband did not know she was undergoing a surgical procedure but found a receipt for the appointment while searching her belongings after she failed to return home, state media reported.
Tuong and the security guard were arrested shortly after, in October 2013.
The security guard was sentenced Friday to 33 months in jail for theft -- of the mobile phone of the victim -- and mistreating the body.
Although no official statistics are available, media reports suggest the number of Vietnamese women undergoing procedures such as breast augmentation and facelifts has increased significantly in recent years as a new generation of body conscious and wealthy women turn to clinics for help.
Vietnam's health sector is generally poorly regulated.
Many doctors at state-run hospitals also run unlicenced private clinics or offer treatment from their homes.