Indonesian prosecutors have confirmed they will press charges carrying the death penalty against a New Zealand man caught with crystal meth at Bali’s airport.
Antony de Malmanche, 52, says he thought he was going on his first overseas trip to meet a woman he met online.
Instead he says he found himself diverted to China at the direction of a man claiming to be the woman’s personal assistant.
The man gave him a bag and instructions to fly to Bali, where he would finally meet “Jessie”. Lawyers for de Malmanche say he didn’t know there was 1.7kg of the drug known as ice inside the backpack when he was intercepted by customs in Bali. On Thursday, the invalid pensioner tripped and fell as he was taken to the prosecutor’s office and needed medical attention.
Asked what he expected to happen at trial he said: “To be found not guilty.” Prosecutor Siti Sawiyah says she has received the police brief of evidence including a green backpack and 1709 grams of “shabu”, or crystal meth. She confirmed the Kiwi would be charged with offences carrying a maximum penalty of death.
“We will keep the suspect in detention in Kerobokan prison,” she told reporters on Thursday, adding she hoped a trial could begin as soon as possible. Indonesian lawyer for de Malmanche, Chris Harno, says his client – who spent three years in institutional care as a child – is in poor physical and mental health.
“He suffers pain in his spine and the back of his neck … suffered long ago, but he still feels it now,” he told reporters.
“My focus in court will be to try to get him off the death penalty.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said there will be “no compromise” in executing drug offenders sentenced to death, as part of his determination to stop drug crime. Barrister Craig Tuck, representing de Malmanche, is set to use a groundbreaking defence at trial.
A specialist team of human rights and legal experts from Indonesia and elsewhere will demonstrate that de Malmanche is a victim of human trafficking.