14-year-old Australian's drug trial begins in Bali

AP News
Posted: Nov 01, 2011 10:00 AM
14-year-old Australian's drug trial begins in Bali

A 14-year-old Australian boy went on trial Tuesday on charges of possessing marijuana while on vacation with his parents on Indonesia's resort island of Bali.

The boy, wearing a mask to protect his identity, arrived at Denpasar District Court with his mother for a brief closed-door hearing.

Prosecutor I Gusti Putu Gede Atmaja later told reporters that the boy from Morisset Park, Australia, faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of buying 3.6 grams (0.13 ounces) of marijuana on Oct. 4 while vacationing with his parents and a 13-year-old friend.

He said two community guards saw the boy pull the drugs out of his pockets after his arrest.

The boy's lawyer, Muhammad Rifan, said he could escape jail time because he is a minor and appeared to have been purchasing the drug for personal use, not distribution.

Rifan said that in the best case he would be allowed to return home in the custody of his parents.

The trial, being closely watched in Australia, continues Friday.

Dozens of Australian citizens have been sentenced to jail terms or placed on death row for drug possession in Indonesia. However, the boy _ who cannot be identified under Indonesian law _ is reportedly the youngest to go on trial on drug charges.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws and people who are convicted of possession or smuggling are often executed. More than 140 people are on death row, including more than 50 foreigners.