US man given life sentence for drug smuggling in Indonesia

AP News
Posted: Nov 17, 2016 5:50 AM

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesia court has sentenced an American man to life imprisonment after finding him guilty of drug smuggling, an official said Thursday.

Philip Russell was sentenced Wednesday by a three-judge panel at the District Court in Semarang, the provincial capital of Central Java, court spokesman Sartono said.

Russell, 56, was arrested with seven other people following a raid in January by the National Narcotics Agency on a furniture workshop in the Central Java town of Jepara. Officers found 97 kilograms (214 pounds) of crystal methamphetamine hidden inside 54 electrical generators from China that were stored in the workshop.

Russell, also known as Kamran Muzaffar Malik, was accused of partly financing the import of the generators from China, said Sartono, who uses a single name.

He said Russell, who was an employee at a money transfer company in Jakarta, will appeal the verdict.

The court earlier sentenced Muhammad Riaz, a Pakistani identified as the leader of the group, to death and the six other defendants to prison terms ranging from 15 years to life imprisonment.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws. More than 140 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes.

Eighteen people convicted of drug-related offenses, mostly foreigners, have been executed since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo took office in October 2014.