S'porean gets death in Batam for drug smuggling

Singaporean car salesman Ong Beng Song, alias Ong alias Edy, 40, has been sentenced to death together with two Malaysian accomplices for smuggling 168,987 Ecstasy pills in a compressor into Batam last May.

The verdict, handed down yesterday in a Batam district court, came as a surprise as prosecutors had sought life terms for Ong, who was listed as living in Johor Baru, and the two men.

Presiding judge Jack Octavianus said the reason for the death sentence was because the quantity of Ecstasy pills found was so high that, had they successfully smuggled them in, it could have destroyed a massive number of young people.

"They were proven guilty of smuggling illicit drugs. They were not cooperative throughout the trial and avoided confessing the crime," the judge said in explaining why he slapped the trio with a sentence higher than that prosecutors had sought.

The verdicts, which under Indonesian laws will not be carried out immediately, can be appealed at the High Court in the provincial capital of the Riau Islands province, and again at the Supreme Court in Jakarta.

Ong was arrested in West Jakarta on June 6 while eating at a restaurant, shortly after the two Malaysian accomplices were picked up from a rented luxury house nearby.

Police were initially tipped off by a shipping firm last May that a shipment of illicit drugs stored in a compressor had arrived in Batam from Malaysia, before the drugs were taken to Jakarta by land transport and ferry through South Sumatra.

Illicit drugs smuggled from other countries like China and Thailand to Indonesia have often entered through Batam, taking advantage of the often lenient checks by the authorities.

Others took advantage of Indonesia's porous borders to bring in illegal drugs. Shipments have also been detected on Batam through the so-called "mouse seaports" - or tiny, illegal ports spread along the Batam coastline such as Tanjung Riau, Batu Besar and Nongsa.


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