Indonesia sentences Australian man to 6 months of rehabilitation for drug possession in Bali

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DENPASAR, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court on Thursday sentenced an Australian man to six months of medical rehabilitation after he was found guilty of possessing methamphetamine on the tourist island of Bali.

Troy Andrew Smith, from Port Lincoln in South Australia, was arrested on April 30 after police searched his hotel in Legian, a popular tourist spot near Kuta Beach, and seized 3.15 grams (0.1 ounce) of crystal methamphetamine in a toothpaste jar from his room. Police found another 0.4 grams of the drug, along with a bong and a lighter in his desk drawer.

His previous drug trafficking charge was dropped. The penalty would have been death.

The arrest followed a tip that Smith had received a suspicious package of toothpaste in the mail from Australia. Under Indonesia’s strict drug laws, he faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Smith sat silently as a three-judge panel at the Denpasar District Court handed down the sentence. The judges also ordered that the time he had already spent in rehabilitation since his arrest be deducted from his sentence, meaning he will be free within months.

“The defendant committed a criminal offense by misusing Class I narcotics for personal use,” said presiding judge Ketut Suarta. “What he did was to obstruct the government’s efforts to combat drug trafficking.”

The prosecution had demanded eight months of medical rehabilitation for Smith, but the judges said they had reduced the sentence because Smith regretted his actions and promised to improve.

During the trial that began two weeks ago, the 49-year-old accountant told the court he had ordered the drugs from a man in Australia three weeks before his arrest and that he regretted his actions and had apologised.

He said he had been using methamphetamine daily since 2020 to help with depression and anxiety.

Authorities reduced the original charge of drug trafficking, which could carry a death penalty, to the less serious charge of drug use after a police team determined the man was merely a drug user.

After the judges read the sentence, both prosecutors and Smith’s attorneys indicated they accepted the verdict and would not appeal.

Smith expressed his gratitude to both his Indonesian and Australian lawyers, his mother and his sister, for their help and support when they spoke to reporters after the hearing.

“Thanks to Tracy, whose love I lay down every day,” Smith said, referring to his new wife. He was on honeymoon in Bali when he was arrested.

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

Under current President Joko Widodo, who took office in 2014, 18 people convicted of drug offenses have been executed.

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