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Australian Trade Unionist on Drug Charge Before Bali Court

Robert McJannet Could Be Sentenced to 15 Years in Bali Prison for Smuggling 1.7 grams of Marijuana.

(4/5/2010) Robert Paul McJannet, a 48 year-old trade unionist form Australia is on trial in Denpasar's District Court facing a maximum 15 years in prison if he is convicted with attempting to smuggle 1.7 grams of marijuana into the country.

McJannett was arrested on December 28, 2009, at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport with a small plastic bag of marijuana concealed in his checked baggage.

Traveling with his teenage son, McJannet initially claimed no knowledge of the drugs suggesting he was set up by political rivals in Australia. McJannet has apparently been abandoned that defense and is now calling in psychiatrist to help persuade the court that he is addicted to marijuana and should therefore receive a minimum, rehabilitative sentence.

Forensic tests performed by police in Bali confirmed that McJannet had recently used marijuana.

McJannett now freely admits that he is a regular user of marijuana for medical purposes to assist him with a sleeping disorder, diverticulitis, hepatitis C and a lung infection.

The Australian is apologizing to the Indonesian government for violating its drug laws. It is not clear if he has also issued a public apology to those he initially claimed planted the drugs in his luggage.

If the Bali court accept McJannet's self-portrayal as a hapless drug addict he may be granted a lighter sentence and be on his way back to Australia in a matter of weeks.