The son of a Bali senator has been arrested and found to be in the possession of a significant amount of marijuana. In what is unraveling as a political scandal, the son of Badung Regency Senator Puts Parwata was arrested at his home on Saturday 14th May. News of the scandal is only hitting headlines today as it appears the Parwata family has been gathering lawyers to prevent the news from spreading.
According to local newspaper reports, the Parwata family gathered lawyers at the family home in Dalung, Bali, to work on a defense strategy. This may be very hard to pull off since 33-year-old Put NCA (known by his initials during the investigation) was caught in possession of 495 grams of marijuana.
Indonesia, and Bali in particular, has a zero-tolerance approach to drugs and narcotics. Sentences carry a heavy and immovable sentence. In the eyes of the law, there are no classes of drugs, being caught with 495 of weed is the same as being caught with 495 of cocaine. In the wake of cases like that of The Bali 9, the island’s judicial system is hard on drugs.
Bali is home to the notorious Kerobokan Prison, which is currently housing over 1,400 inmates despite its 320-person capacity. The vast majority of inmates are in Kerobokan for drug-related offenses serving lengthy sentences. Should the senator’s son be convicted and charged, it is likely he will spend a long time behind the bars of the KBB.
According to a police statement, Putu NCA is a 33-year-old lawyer and has been lodged as an official suspect. He is thought to have bought 4.5 million IDR worth of marijuana online via a connection on social media. The police have confirmed that they have read the messages exchanged in the purchase of the drugs. The police were alerted to Putu NCA’s possession of drugs through public information, meaning they heard through the grapevine and gathered sufficient anecdotal evidence to warrant searching his property.
A search of Putu NCA’s home in Dalung, North Kuta, found a small bag of weed weighing around 88 grams. This alone would have been sufficient for an arrest and considerable jail term, as the search of the property continued the police uncovered another much larger bag with 495 grams inside and rolling papers.
There has been no further information or press statement from the Denpasar Police, the Badung Senator’s Officer, or the regional government. It is likely a statement will be released once the preliminary investigation has been completed. There may be more to this story to come, many commentators will say Putu Parwata does all he can to defend his son, others would suggest that he would do well to accept the damage to his reputation and continue to support the law despite an unfavorable outlook for his son.
Indonesia has one of the strictest drug policies in the world. 65 narcotics are listed on the 2009 Narcotics Law and there is little differentiation between classes A, B, and C. There is no concession for marijuana for medicinal or recreational use. CBD and hemp products are also illegal.
Unsuspecting tourists have been arrested and charged for possession of drugs in products that are widely used in countries like the USA and Australia. One traveler was arrested at the airport for hemp massage oil and others for clothing with the marijuana leaf printed on it.
Possession of marijuana (or marijuana-related products) carries a fine of IDR 8 billion (USD 581,700) and up to 12-years in prison. Being convicted of selling drugs carries also carried an IDR 8 billion fine and 12-years in prison. If found producing, exporting/importing, and distributing marijuana comes with an IDR 10 billion fine and up to 15-years in prison.
It is unclear as yet if Putu NCA’s charge will escalate to include import/export and distribution or whether he will be able to claim the 495g was for personal use as did French national Nicolas Gaston did in December 2021 when Bali police arrested him with over 3 kg of marijuana in the kitchen of his rental home.
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