Indonesia sentences Australian man to 6-month rehabilitation over drug possession in Bali

DENPASAR, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court sentenced an Australian man to six months of medical rehabilitation Thursday after finding him guilty of possessing methamphetamine on the tourist island of Bali.

Troy Andrew Smith, from Port Lincoln in South Australia state, was arrested April 30 after police raided his hotel in Legian, a popular tourist spot near Kuta Beach, and seized 3.15 grams (0.1 ounce) of crystal methamphetamine inside a toothpaste container from his room. Police found a further 0.4 grams of the drug, along with a bong and a lighter in his desk drawer.

His earlier charge of drug trafficking was dropped, it would've carried the death penalty.

The arrest followed a tip that Smith had received a suspicious package containing toothpaste by mail from Australia. Under Indonesia’s tough drug laws, he faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

Smith sat silently as a panel of three judges at Denpasar District Court handed down the punishment. The judges also ordered the time he has already served rehabilitation since he was arrested to be deducted from his sentence, meaning he will be free in several months.

“The defendant did commit a criminal offense of misuse class I narcotics for personal use,” said Presiding Judge Ketut Suarta, “What he has done is counter the government's efforts to fight drug trafficking.”

Prosecutors had sought an eight-month medical rehabilitation for Smith, but the judges said they reduced the penalty because Smith regretted his acts and promised to reform.

During the trial that began two weeks ago, the 49-year-old accountant told the court that he ordered the drugs from a man in Australia three weeks before his arrest and that he regretted his actions and apologized.

He said that he had used meth routinely daily to reduce depression and anxiety since 2020.

Authorities reduced the initial charge of drug trafficking, which carries a possible death penalty, to the less serious charge of drug use after a police drug assessment team determined he was merely a drug user.

After the judges read out the sentence, both prosecutors and Smith’s lawyers said that they accepted the verdict and will not appeal.

Smith expressed his gratitude to both his Indonesian and Australian lawyers, his mother and sister, for their help and support when speaking to reporters after the sentence hearing.

“Thank you to Tracy, whose love I lay down every single day,” Smith said, referring to his new wife. He was on a honeymoon in Bali when he was arrested.

Indonesia has very strict drug laws and convicted traffickers can be executed by a firing squad. More than 150 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes, and about a third of them are foreigners.

Eighteen people convicted of drug-related offenses have been executed under current President Joko Widodo, who took office in 2014.