SA ‘drug mule’ faces death penalty

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Cape Town - A South African man is facing the death penalty for allegedly smuggling tik into Bali, according to reports.

Stephen Henri Lubbe is on trial and “threatened with the death penalty”, say reports in the English-language Bali Times.

Lubbe, whose age has been given as 57 and 58 in different Indonesian reports, is on trial at the Denpasar District Court in Bali’s capital. Efforts to determine where in South Africa Lubbe is from proved fruitless on Friday.

According to Indonesia’s official Antara news agency, Lubbe was allegedly caught with 1.54kg of methamphetamine at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on Sunday, February 9.

He was on a flight from Hong Kong.

“The officers spotted a suspicious item in Lubbe’s grey suitcase as it passed through the scanner,” said the article.

“The officers opened the suitcase and found a package of white crystal, which was tested and identified as methamphetamine.”

The agency added that Lubbe admitted to the officers that he had been compensated with a holiday to Bali by an unidentified person in return for carrying the drugs consignment.

The Jakarta Post said when Lubbe was arrested he “defended himself, saying he did not know there were drugs in his suitcase”.

“Lubbe… said he was in Bali for a holiday. He claimed he had been paid with a holiday package on the island in return for delivering the suitcase.”

According to media reports, Lubbe breached article 113 of the country’s 2009 Narcotics Law by bringing drugs into Indonesia. This means he could face life imprisonment or the death penalty.

Indonesia has some of the strictest anti-drug smuggling laws in the world.

According to a report by the International Drug Policy Consortium, Indonesia has “severe sanctions” for supplying drugs, including “imposing the death penalty for certain drug trafficking offences”.

The exact state of the case against Lubbe is unclear at the moment.

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation had not responded to a request for comment at the time of going to press on Friday night.

Patricia Gerber, of the NGO Locked Up, told Independent Newspapers a number of South Africans had been imprisoned in Bali over the past few years

“And all our people that are sitting in Bali were arrested at that airport,” she said. “It is unbelievable how many South Africans have been arrested.”

At least nine South Africans had been imprisoned in Bali for drug smuggling in 2011 and the early part of 2012.

Gerber, meanwhile, wants the South African government to institute a prisoner transfer agreement to get these drug mules home.

Some Indonesian media reports said Lubbe had worked with an accomplice from Nigeria, who had given him the drugs to transport to a “friend” in Bali. “Preliminary questioning suggests that he belongs to a Nigerian drug syndicate that operates in 31 countries,” Rahmat Subagio, of the country’s Customs and Excise Agency, was quoted as saying in the Jakarta Post.

According to a new UN drug report, West African criminal groups have increasingly been trafficking methamphetamine to South East Asia.

jan.cronje@inl.co.za

Weekend Argus


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