Sat, 04 Nov 2000

Death penalty sought for French national

DENPASAR, Bali (JP): State prosecutors demanded on Friday that the Denpasar District Court hand down the death penalty to a French national for trying to smuggle 3.8 kilograms of hashish into the island of Bali.

It was the first time the death penalty had been demanded over a drug trafficking case in Bali.

Prosecutors Anak Agung Gede Satya M, IB Dwiantara and Tjokorda Rai Suamba told the hearing, presided over by Judge Ni Nyoman Mariati, that Michael Loic Blanc, 32, was guilty of illegally carrying 3.8 kilograms of hashish on Dec. 26, 1999.

"The defendant was arrested by a joint-team of security officers at the Ngurah Rai International Airport at 3:25 p.m. local time after the X-Ray scanner picked up two scuba tanks in one of his cases. Suspicious, and after checking that the tanks were empty of oxygen, the officers drilled into the steel tubes and found 189 small rolls and 178 packs of hashish with a total weight of 3.85 kilograms," prosecutor Anak Agung Gede Satya M said.

Blanc had flown on Garuda Indonesia from India via Bangkok to Denpasar at the time when he was apprehended.

According to the prosecutor in his summing up, aggravating factors included the fact that the defendant had tried to smuggle a large quantity of hashish and that the government had been working seriously to curb drug trafficking. "Another aggravating factor is the fact that Bali has become a lucrative market for narcotics."

Blanc had earlier claimed that the scuba tanks belonged to his friend Philip, who lived in Bombay, India. He said during police questioning that he knew nothing about the hashish, claiming that he had used the tanks for diving several times in India.

The defendant said he had spent 15 days in India before flying to Bali.

Defense lawyer Dwi Surya Hadi Budi told reporters after the session that the prosecutors could not prove that the scuba tanks and the hashish belonged to his client.

The hearing was adjourned until Nov. 6 to hear defense arguments. (zen/sur)