1-year penalty sought for journalist in Indonesia drug case

AP News
Posted: Mar 02, 2017 9:39 AM
1-year penalty sought for journalist in Indonesia drug case

BALI, Indonesia (AP) — A prosecutor sought a one-year jail sentence Thursday for a former Reuters war correspondent who is on trial in Indonesia on charges of possessing hashish.

British national David Fox was arrested Oct. 8 along with Australian Giuseppe Serafino on the tourist island of Bali, where police confiscated a total of 10.09 grams (0.36 ounces) of hashish from Fox's clothing and house.

In her sentencing demand at the Denpasar District Court, prosecutor Erawati Susina said the defendant was guilty of violating the country's 2009 law on narcotics, under which such drug possession could face a maximum four years in prison.

However, she sought leniency due to Fox's politeness during the trial where he confessed and apologized for his mistake.

Fox, 55, worked for Reuters for 20 years but was fired in 2011 for making an off-color remark in an instant-messaging system while covering the 2011 Japan tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdowns, has told police he used the drug to overcome stress caused by covering conflicts.

After the hearing, he told reporters he was embarrassed and apologized to his family, friends and Indonesians for causing trouble due to the case.

Fox and his lawyer are scheduled to submit the defense plea next week.

Police first raided the house of Serafino in the beachside town and resort area of Sanur, where they seized 7.32 grams (0.26 ounces) of hashish. His arrest led to the detention of Fox at a bar run by Serafino.

Serafino, 49, is being tried separately and the prosecutor will submit the sentencing demand for him next week.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws and convicted smugglers are often executed. More than 150 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes. About a third of them are foreigners.

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