Indonesia is well known for its zero-tolerance of drug abuse and this month in Bali has been no exception. In a statement released by Tabanan Police this week, seven suspects have been arrested and charged with offenses related to drug abuse including the possession of methamphetamine in May alone. The seven suspects are all from Indonesia and include a serving member of the Indonesian Military Service (TNI). Two were arrested in the same incident the other five are thought to have been apprehended in separate arrests.
The serving officer was arrested by military police close to his barracks. He was caught picking up crystal meth on the pavement of Jalan Darmawangsa in Tabanan on the 13th of May. He was arrested and immediately transferred into the custody of the Tabanan Police Narcotics Unit. It is believed that the soldier was buying drugs in partnership with another man who is thought to be a tourist bus driver.
According to local reports, on the night of their arrest, the men were in possession of methamphetamines and tried to flee the scene upon seeing the police approaching. They are said to have thrown the drugs as far as they could before the chase began. Police later found 0.28g grams of meth and the cellphones of the suspects which were gathered as evidence.
During questioning, it came to light that the suspect known to the media only as NS was still in active service of the Indonesian National Military. Reports suggest that NS was fully cooperative after his arrest but that his accomplice, the bus driver known as WS, was less forthcoming in his answers.
Officer Ranefli from the Tabanan Police Narcotics Unit shared that NS knew the punishment for being caught in possession of methamphetamines. He has been charged and will await trial. If found guilty he faces a minimum prison sentence of 4-years, maximum of 12-years, and a minimum fine of IDR 800 billion (USD 550,000).
NS will likely be found guilty and given a maximum sentence. Indonesia, Bali especially, is tough on drugs. NS would almost certainly be sent to Bali’s notorious Kerobokan Prison whose inmates are mostly locked up for drug offenses. Indonesia still has the death penalty and there are several inmates at Kerobokan Prison who are awaiting death by firing squad for drug-related offenses, including a British grandmother who was found guilty of trafficking drugs into Bali in 2012.
This news comes in the same week as the son of a Bali Senator was arrested in possession of nearly half a kilo of marijuana. The son of Putu Parwata, a 33-year-old lawyer who lives in Badung, was arrested at his home Saturday 14th May. The arrest has created something of a political scandal and local reports suggested that the Parwata family have been scrambling to put a team of lawyers in place to defend the senator’s son and to deal with any further scandals breaking.
Being found in possession of marijuana also carries a fine of IDR 800 billion and a maximum prison sentence of 12-years. There are 65 substances listed on the Indonesian narcotics bill and in the eyes of the law, there is little difference between Class A, B, and C drugs. The law does differentiate between personal use and intent to supply but sentencing rarely reflects that. In short anyone caught in possession of drugs in Indonesia will do jail time.
Travelers are especially reminded that although marijuana laws around the world are steadily becoming more relaxed that that is certainly not the case in Indonesia. In recent years travelers have unwittingly got themselves into trouble with the law for trying to enter Indonesia with items that are deemed harmless elsewhere. On traveller was arrested massage oil infused with hemp and another person was arrested for having a t-shirt with a marijuana leaf on it.
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