Mon, 24 Feb 2003

Is minister of justice lying?

We are against drugs and we understand the need to fight against drug dealers. However, Michael Blanc, who has been imprisoned in Denpasar, Bali, for three years now, is not one of them: he is innocent of all crimes and we believe he is the victim of a judicial error as can happen in any other country.

When arrested he was still very young and couldn't speak Bahasa Indonesia, so he was unable to defend himself properly. He has behaved well during his three years in jail in Denpasar.

We would like to inform the Indonesian public that the death penalty has been abolished in France since 1982. Also, for what is said to have been done by Michael -- entering Bali from Bangkok with four kilograms of hashish -- he would have received a much lighter sentence in France, a maximum of three years depending on his record.

Hashish is considered in France -- as in most countries of the European Union -- to be a soft drug. It is even legalized in Holland. So, it is impossible for President Chirac to have said to Pak Yusril, as he affirmed to a Republika journalist on Feb. 5, 2003, that anyone caught entering France with four kilograms of hashish could be sentenced to the death penalty.

According to Pak Yusril when speaking to Republika, Michael should be happy to have only received a sentence of life imprisonment.

We would like to remind President Megawati that President Chirac has sent a personal letter to her asking her for clemency for Michael Blanc. We hope that she will make a positive decision in this regard as soon as possible.

YVAN MAGAIN, Tubize, Belgium