The lawyers of a New Zealand man who escaped the death penalty for trafficking almost 2kg of crystal meth in Bali say his lengthy imprisonment is a “significant blow”.
Antony de Malmanche, 52, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison in Bali.
The 52-year-old Whanganui man was arrested last December after 1.7kg of methamphetamine was found in his backpack at the Denpasar International Airport.
De Malmanche claimed he was duped and did not know the drugs were there.
His New Zealand lawyer, Craig Tuck, said his legal team would be appealing the decision.
Mr Tuck said the death penalty had been “on the table” until the last moment but the significant sentence was not a relief.
He had just got off the phone with de Malmanche when he spoke to the New Zealand Herald and said he was in “emotional turmoil” thinking about the reality of spending more than a decade in Indonesian jail.
The family had been hoping for an acquittal and that de Malmanche would be home in Whanganui by the end of the week, Mr Tuck said.
“Fifteen years is not a firing squad, and it turns into about 10 years with various remissions, but it’s not an easy lag.
“His family obviously it’s a significant blow, a fixed term imprisonment of that length. It’s a lot less than probably many others, but having said that it’s dad away from home for a long time and especially with the vulnerability that he’s got.”
The defence had to tread lightly because there were dangers with appealing in Indonesian court – a number of people have ended up on the receiving end of a death penalty after appealing a sentence, Mr Tuck said.
Mr Tuck said the decision had “simply sidestepped” a number of central issues with the case.
“Half the job’s done and we’re moving up the next level now.
“[de Malmanche] knows that everybody’s still behind him. We are going to get the result that we want, it’s just going to take a bit more work. But he’s not off to the island to get shot which is a big first step,” Mr Tuck said.
In court, Indonesian prosecutors stopped short of requesting the death penalty and instead recommended a prison sentence of 18 years.
De Malmanche’s lawyers – a team of about 10 – have argued throughout the trial that he was a “trafficked person not a trafficker”.
The court heard he was abused as a child and has been institutionalised with mental illness.
De Malmanche said he was looking for love online when he met “Jessy Smith” – and was offered an all expenses-paid trip to Bali.
It was the first time de Malmanche had travelled overseas.
He met people who he believed were Jessy’s staff in China before flying to Bali where customs found the 1.7 kilograms of crystal meth in his bag.
Custom officials said de Malmanche was sweating so much during the security check that his jacket was “soaked wet” in sweat.
Officers found a plastic bag wrapped with tape containing the crystals inside his almost-empty bag.
The trial has lasted months, after being disrupted in April when de Malmanche collapsed in court due to a heart complaint.
Methamphetamine is in the most serious drug class in Indonesia and anyone convicted of trafficking it faces the death penalty.
Australian Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed alongside six other drug offenders in April after they were convicted of smuggling more than 8kg of heroin.
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford was sentenced to death in Bali in 2013 after she was convicted of trafficking cocaine worth an estimated $3.2 million.
Australian woman Schapelle Corby was convicted to 20 years in jail for smuggling 4.2kg of cannabis into Bali in 2005. She spent nine years in Kerobokan Prison before she was released in 2014.
Source: Otago Daily Times, June 30, 2015