Bali jails Frenchman caught with $63,000 worth of cocaine

DENPASAR, Indonesia - A Frenchman caught with almost US$50,000 (S$62,812) worth of cocaine on the Indonesian resort island of Bali was jailed for 10 months on Monday.

Thierry Verchere, 46, was found with the drugs in January during a police raid on a house in the Balinese capital of Denpasar. Officers discovered plastic bags and capsules containing 112 grammes of the drug, with an estimated street value of 560 million rupiah (S$61,600), according to police.

He was found guilty of drug abuse, which carries a far lighter sentence than possession or smuggling. Prosecutors recommended a one-year sentence but a Denpasar court handed him a 10-month term as he was a first-time offender and confessed to the crime.

"His action was contrary to the government's anti-narcotics programme," said presiding Judge Parulian Saragih.

Verchere, wearing a white shirt and black trousers, did not speak to reporters after the trial.

Foreigners are regularly caught with drugs on Bali and a death sentence can be imposed on those found trying to smuggle drugs weighing more than five grammes into the popular holiday island.

Another Frenchman, Francois Giuily, is currently on trial in Bali accused of smuggling a large stash of crystal methamphetamine into the island, and could face the death penalty. British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford was sentenced to death in January last year after cocaine with an estimated street value of US$2.4 million was found in her suitcase as she arrived on a flight from Bangkok.