Bri­tish ex-war jour­nal­ist ar­rested in Bali drugs case

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

A Bri­tish for­mer war cor­re­spon­dent and an Aus­tralian man have been ar­rested on In­done­sia’s Bali is­land for al­leged hashish pos­ses­sion and could face up to 20 years in jail, po­lice said yes­ter­day. The Bri­ton, David Fox, and Aus­tralian, busi­ness­man Giuseppe Ser­afino, were de­tained on Satur­day for al­legedly pos­sess­ing small quan­ti­ties of the drug.

Fox, who has cov­ered con­flicts and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters around the world, told po­lice he had been us­ing hashish for years due to the stress of cov­er­ing war zones. “He started us­ing hashish be­cause of a work as­sign­ment as a Reuters jour­nal­ist re­port­ing from a con­flict zone in So­ma­lia,” said Ny­oman Ar­tana, deputy po­lice chief in the Ba­li­nese cap­i­tal Denpasar. Fox, 54, worked for the Thom­son Reuters news agency for over 20 years and cov­ered con­flicts and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in coun­tries in­clud­ing Bos­nia, Rwanda, Pak­istan, Afghanistan and Iraq. He left the agency in 2011.

Au­thor­i­ties raided Ser­afino’s house in Sa­nur, in the south of the re­sort is­land, after a tip-off from lo­cal res­i­dents that a for­eigner liv­ing there had been us­ing drugs, po­lice said. Po­lice found about seven grams (quar­ter of an ounce) of hashish in the house and the 48-year-old named Fox as some­one who helped him buy the drugs, ac­cord­ing to Ar­tana. Of­fi­cials got the Aus­tralian to call Fox and ar­range a meet­ing in a bar in Sa­nur, where the Bri­ton was ar­rested. Po­lice found 10 grams of hashish in his pocket and at his house, along with a bong.

The Aus­tralian had ad­mit­ted us­ing hashish and said he was us­ing it to help treat can­cer, ac­cord­ing to Ar­tana. An In­done­sian soldier and po­lice of­fi­cer have also been ar­rested and are be­ing ques­tioned for al­legedly of­fer­ing to sup­ply drugs to Ser­afino. Po­lice are ques­tion­ing Fox and Ser­afino as suspected drug users. If found guilty of pos­ses­sion, they face up to 20 years in prison un­der In­done­sia’s tough anti-nar­cotics laws.

How­ever they will es­cape the death penalty as they are not ac­cused of drug traf­fick­ing, which is a cap­i­tal crime in In­done­sia. Jakarta has sparked global out­rage by haul­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of for­eign drug con­victs be­fore the fir­ing squad over the past two years. The Bri­tish em­bassy in Jakarta said it was pro­vid­ing con­sular as­sis­tance to a Bri­tish na­tional ar­rested in Bali. Aus­tralia’s De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade con­firmed it was pro­vid­ing con­sular as­sis­tance to an Aus­tralian man ar­rested in Bali. For­eign­ers are reg­u­larly ar­rested for drugs of­fences on Bali, a pop­u­lar re­sort is­land famed for its palm-fringed beaches that at­tracts mil­lions of vis­i­tors ev­ery year. —AFP

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