Indonesia court sentences Hong Kong drug leader to death

JAKARTA - An Indonesian court sentenced a drug leader from Hong Kong to death on Friday for possession of more than 860 kg of methamphetamines in one of the country's biggest drug busts in years.

The Indonesian authorities in January arrested Wong Chi Ping and members of his drug syndicate in the capital, Jakarta, after a nearly three-year investigation.

"This was our biggest catch so far in five years," said Mr Slamet Pribadi, spokesman for the National Narcotics Agency."The harsh penalty on drugs will provide a deterrent effect for those who are looking to do such crimes."

Wong's lawyers said they would appeal against the sentence. "We hope that our client still has a chance to prove himself," said defence lawyer Rando Vittoro Hasibuan. "We still believe that he doesn't deserve to get the death penalty."

Wong was believed to have been the mastermind behind the smuggling of methamphetamines from Hong Kong, on south-east China's coast, to Indonesia, packing the drugs into coffee containers, media reported.

After the arrests, police forced Wong and other members of his group to burn 1 trillion rupiah (S$100 million) worth of the drugs.

President Joko Widodo has declared war on what he has called a "narcotics emergency" since taking office a year ago.

He has repeatedly refused clemency to traffickers and more than a dozen drug convicts, most of them foreigners, have been executed this year after a five-year moratorium on the death penalty was lifted.