Indonesia sentences American man to prison for drugs

DENPASAR, INDONESIA (AP) — An Indonesian court sentenced an American man to nine years and four months in prison yesterday after finding him guilty of selling cocaine and marijuana on the resort island of Bali.

Police said Ian Andrew Hernandez of California was arrested last May with 10 small plastic packs containing 6.6 grammes of cocaine and a pack with 23.7 grammes of marijuana at his rented house on the island. The raid on the house followed a tip from a member of the community.

Police also seized electric scales, cigarette papers and a mobile phone allegedly used to receive orders for drugs from tourists through text messages. The indictment said Hernandez confessed that the devices and drugs were his.

Hernandez, 31, sat silently as a panel of three judges at Denpasar District Court handed down the punishment. They also ordered him to pay a fine of IDR1 billion (USD72,885) or serve two more months behind bars.

“The defendant did commit a crime that has tarnished Bali as a tourist destination,” said Presiding Judge Koni Hartanto. “What he has done is contrary to government efforts to fight drug trafficking.”

Ian Andrew Hernandez of California sits in a courtroom during his verdict trial in Bali, Indonesia. PHOTO: AP

Hernandez declined to speak to reporters on his way back to prison.

Prosecutors had sought a 14-year sentence, but the judges said they reduced the penalty because Hernandez regretted his acts and promised to reform.

Hernandez’s lawyer Made Suardika Adnyana told the court that his client accepted the verdict.

Indonesia has strict drug laws and convicted traffickers are sometimes executed by firing squad. Over 150 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes. About a third are foreigners.

Eighteen people convicted of drug-related offences have been executed under the current administration of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

Last year, a Frenchman was sentenced to death on Lombok, an island next to Bali, for smuggling three kilogrammes of ecstasy, before a higher court commuted his sentence to 19 years in prison.