On 5th September 2022, Bali Police arrested 51-year-old Australian Jeff Walton at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport. Walton was found in possession of Class A drugs and was immediately bought into police custody for further questioning. Walton, a diving and surfing instructor, landed in Bali from Vietnam. His story has hit international headlines today as his lawyers have spoken to the press about his case.
Since his arrest, Walton’s lawyer has been working with the Bali police to build a better picture of Walton’s life. His lawyer told reporters this weekend that Walton is not a drug dealer but a profound addict. He claims that the Class A drugs on Walton were strictly for personal use. Nevertheless, Indonesia famously has one of the toughest approaches to drugs in the world. Walton was found in possession of 8g of heroin and 0.34g of methamphetamine.
It is reported that initially, police believed that his visit to Bali was a trial run for smuggling larger quantities at a later date. Indonesian law has little leniency for any drugs, whether for personal use or with intent to supply. In fact, within Indonesian law, being caught in possession, or trafficking, more than 5g of illegal drugs in non-plant form, can lead to the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Walton’s lawyers are now working to demonstrate to the Bali Police and the National Narcotics Agency that he is an addict. They argue that he would be best reformed by a stint in a rehabilitation facility rather than a lifelong prison sentence since he had no intent to supply. His lawyer, Edward Pangkahila, told the press that he believed that police were ‘slowly moving away’ from their initial belief that he arrived in the country to deal drugs.
Pangkahila told reporters, ‘In the beginning of the investigation, BNN tried hard to determine that he was a dealer…They thought it could be a sample. But now I think they are slowly moving away from it. They started to believe that Jeff is an addict. So, I think, in order to get certainty, it’s better to conduct an assessment’.
This is not Walton’s first time in Bali. Pangkahila explained that he has been living in Bali off and on for the last decade. When in Bali, Walton had been staying in Jimbaran in South Kuta. Police have been interviewing those in Bali who know Walton. According to Pangkahila, despite Walton’s addiction spanning over 12 years, ‘nobody ever saw him distributing drugs’. The lawyer confirmed that the BNN has not found anyone who can testify that he has ever sold drugs in Bali.
Made Dewi Saputra, a spokesperson for BNN Bali, confirmed that their investigation remains underway. He confirmed that a press conference will be held in Bali on Thursday to formally announce the allegations and any potential charges against Walton.
It has been confirmed that Walton tested positive for heroin in a urine test conducted in the hours after his arrest. He was caught by Bali Airport Police on an X-Ray scanner. He had endeavored to conceal the heroin and the methamphetamine in a condom in his anus. Pangkahila remains hopeful that the plea that Walton is an addict will be heard.
Although Indonesia has strict and often unforgiving drug laws, there have been exceptions made in the past for people who demonstrated that they were addicts with no intent to supply. In July this year, two Australian men working in the mining industry in West Papua were arrested for possessing methamphetamine and syringes. Police eventually dropped charges after confirming that the pair were addicts in need of support. The duo has since been sent to a rehabilitation clinic in Mimika in Papua.
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