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Bali Judge Throws the Book at an Australian Tourist

Denpasar Judge Hands Down Sentence Three Times More than That Sought by Prosecutors for Tourist Caught with Cocaine in Bali.

Perhaps reflecting recent criticism suggesting malfeasance reflected in the light sentences being meted out to foreign nationals in narcotics trials, the Denpasar District Court presided over by Bambang Ekaputra has handed down a sentence to a 45-year old Australian man, Ryan Scott Williams, that was much more severe than that sought by public prosecutors.

On Thursday, August 15, 2019, Judge Ekaputra sentenced Williams to 5 years in prison for possessing 43.15 grams of cocaine, a period of imprisonment much sterner than the "lighter" sentence of 15 months demanded by State Prosecutors.

As reported by balitribune.co.id, the Presiding judge rejected the Prosecutors decision to charge the man only as an illicit user of narcotics, changing his indictment to sentence Williams as a distributor/producer of narcotics. The Indonesian anti-narcotics law specifies that 1.1 grams of cocaine is a “reasonable” amount of the drug for personal consumption in a single day, while the Australian was arrested with more than 43 grams of cocaine in his possession. This, according to the Court, automatically classified the Australian as an operator/producer in the illicit drug trade.

Williams did, however, escape a Rp. 10 billion fine that could have been imposed by the Court in the case.

William had established a small laboratory in his residence for producing cocaine that he told the court he needed for "pain control" for an injured leg. The man has been warded in a police hospital since last month for the treatment of an injured leg kept encased in a walking brace.

In handing down the sentence, Justice Ekaputra said weighing against the Australian was that his crime could result in damaging the future generation of the Nation and the large amount of drugs found in his possession. In partial mitigation, however, was the fact that Williams acted politely before the Court during the trial and the fact that he was the financial backbone of his family.

While prosecutors said they would consider whether or not to appeal the decision, Williams and his attorney Edward Pangkahila quickly signaled they would not contest the verdict of the court, even thought it was three time more than the penalty sought by prosecutors. Williams’ attorney later told the press that risk of appealing the sentence might result in an even stiffer sentence of death before a firing squad being rendered on appeal.

Williams was arrested in March 2019 at a private villa in Kerobokan with 43 grams of cocaine hidden in two glass jars in the villa's dressing room.

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