Indonesia sentences New Zealand man to 15 years jail for drugs

Indonesia sentences New Zealand man to 15 years jail for drugs
Antony de Malmanche of New Zealand waits inside a holding cell before his trial at a court in Denpasar on May 7, 2015.

DENPASAR, Indonesia - An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced a New Zealand man to 15 years in jail for trafficking crystal methamphetamine into the resort island of Bali.

Antony de Malmanche was discovered with 1.7 kilograms (3.7 pounds) of the drug hidden inside his backpack upon landing in Bali in December.

His family claim the 53-year-old was the victim of an online dating scam and that he was travelling to Bali to see a woman he met on the Internet, who had made his travel arrangements.

But presiding judge Cening Budiana told the Denpasar district court "the defendant has been legally and convincingly proven guilty of illegally importing drugs".

"We sentence him to 15 years in prison and a fine of four billion rupiah (S$400,000)," he added.

"His act contradicted the government's anti-drug programme. It also damaged Bali's image as a tourist destination." Malmanche's sentence was lighter than the 18 years being demanded by prosecutors. Drug traffickers can face death by firing squad in Indonesia.

Budiana said Malmanche was polite in court and had no previous convictions. His lawyer Chris Harno said they were still considering whether to appeal the sentence.

Foreigners are frequently arrested for attempting to smuggle narcotics into Bali, and some have been handed the death sentence.

Despite international protests, Indonesia executed seven foreign drug convicts in April, defending the move as a vital front of its "war" on drugs. Two Australians were among the group and Canberra recalled its ambassador from Jakarta in protest.

British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, who was caught smuggling cocaine into Bali, is also on death row.

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