Thu, 12 Feb 2004

Nigerian pleads innocent in drug case

JAKARTA: Nigerian John Owuh pleaded innocent on Wednesday, refuting the charges of illegal drug possession and trafficking.

"The prosecutors have failed to prove that the defendant owned and traded the drugs found on him," lawyer Kodrat Sapto Adji told the West Jakarta District Court.

The lawyers highlighted the fact that the so-called key witnesses in the case -- Yani and Anna -- were still at large.

Detectives M. Sagala and Wahyudi could only testify that they found some 47 grams of heroin hidden in Owuh's left sock during the arrest which was made on Aug. 22, 2003, at Apartment Batavia restaurant in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.

Owuh himself told the court that he met Anna, a South African, that night to seek help to process his lost passport "but was then entrusted with the pack of heroin instead".

The defendant, who claimed to be a garment trader, was charged with violating Articles 82 and 78 of Law No. 22/1997 on drug trafficking and drug possession respectively. The articles carry a maximum sentence of 20 years and a Rp 1 billion (US$117) fine.

Prosecutor Rizal Pahlevi proposed a sentence of 18 years in prison and a Rp 1 billion fine. The fine can be exchanged for another six months in prison. The trial is adjourned until Feb. 18. -- JP