Japan man, 73, arrested in Indonesia for smuggling meth

JAKARTA - A 73-year-old Japanese man has been arrested in western Indonesia for allegedly attempting to smuggle crystal methamphetamine into the country, an offence punishable by death, police said Monday.

He was detained Saturday when his flight from Malaysia landed in the city of Padang, on Sumatra island, and customs officials found 2.5 kilograms (5.5 pounds) of the drug hidden in his bag, they said.

"He claimed that he was not aware that (the bag) contained illegal drugs," said Padang police official Untung Suropati.

The man, whom police did not identify, had travelled to China, Macau and Malaysia before arriving in Indonesia, Suropati said.

"He could face the death penalty if a court finds him guilty of smuggling illegal drugs," he added.

Yushi Suzuki, Japanese vice-consul in the city of Medan on Sumatra, confirmed that the detained man was a Japanese passport holder.

Indonesia enforces stiff penalties for drug trafficking, including life imprisonment and death.

Foreigners are frequently arrested for attempting to smuggle drugs into the country, although most are caught on the popular holiday island of Bali.

A Frenchman was jailed for 15 years in July for attempting to smuggle a huge stash of crystal methamphetamine into Bali at the beginning of the year.