Australian man is on trial in Indonesia for alleged drug possession in Bali

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DENPASAR, Indonesia (AP) — A court on the Indonesian tourist island of Bali on Thursday began the trial of an Australian man who faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted of possessing methamphetamine under the country’s strict drug laws.

Troy Andrew Smith, from Port Lincoln in South Australia, was arrested on April 30 after police raided his hotel near Kuta Beach, a popular tourist spot, and seized 3.15 grams of crystal methamphetamine from his room , authorities said.

The arrest followed a tip that Smith had received a suspicious package of toothpaste from Australia in the mail.

Prosecutors at the court in Bali’s provincial capital Denpasar say he violated anti-narcotics laws, which carry a prison sentence of up to 12 years and a fine of 8 billion rupiah ($491,000).

Authorities reduced the initial drug trafficking charge, which carries a possible death penalty, to the less serious drug charge after a police drug assessment team determined he was a drug user.

The 49-year-old accountant admitted to using drugs to stop drinking alcohol since 2020 and denied being a dealer, chief prosecutor Isa Ulinnuha said.

“He was not involved in the illegal narcotics trade but was a drug abuser in the moderate category,” Ulinnuha told the court. “Therefore, we also recommend that he undergo psychological evaluation and inpatient medical rehabilitation for at least six months at a government rehabilitation center.”

After the charges against Smith were read, the three-judge panel postponed the trial until June 20.

Indonesia has very strict drug laws and convicted human traffickers can be executed by firing squad. More than 150 people are on death row, mainly for drug crimes, and about a third of them are foreigners.

Eighteen people convicted of drug-related crimes have been executed under current President Joko Widodo, who came to power in 2014.

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