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Indonesia hands drug-dealing convict death sentence

Catholic lawyer criticizes penalty and questions how inmate could deal drugs from behind bars

Indonesia hands drug-dealing convict death sentence

Indonesian police and drugs agency members display packs of methamphetamine before authorities destroyed 2.6 tons of crystal meth in Jakarta in May 2018. (Photo: Bay Ismoyo/AFP)  


An Indonesian court has sentenced to death an inmate for running a drug-trafficking operation from behind bars.

Semarang District Court in Central Java province sentenced Minggus Indriansyah, 39, to death for his role in the trafficking of 200 grams of crystal methamphetamine, known locally as sabu-sabu.

Court spokesman Eko Budi Supriyanto said on Jan. 28 that the sentence was handed down last week.

Indriansyah’s involvement in trafficking the drug was revealed after the National Narcotics Agency arrested a suspect last year identified as Sutan Andi Widakdo at Tanjung Emas Port in Semarang, the provincial capital of Central Java.

A further investigation revealed Indriansyah had helped provide the drug. 

He was charged in July last year while serving time in a penitentiary in Pontianak, capital of West Kalimantan province.

Indriansyah had previously been sentenced to 17 years in prison for trafficking 6.5 kilograms of sabu-sabu and 39,000 ecstasy pills from Malaysia. He was initially sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted by the Supreme Court in 2017.

Azas Tigor Nainggolan, a Catholic lawyer who serves as coordinator of the human rights desk at the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Pastoral for Migrant-Itinerant People, criticized the death sentence considering the relatively low amount of drugs involved but questioned how Indriansyah could be allowed to deal in drugs from behind bars.

“The fact he could still run a drug-trafficking operation from behind bars surprises me. Does this mean law enforcement officials and the legal system remain corrupt?” he said.

“If the government wants to end drug trafficking, they have to make these things right. There is no need to sentence a drug trafficker to death.”

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He added that Indriansyah can appeal against the sentence.

Yohan Misero, a narcotics policy analyst from Bogor-based Indonesia Justice Act, said the fact that Indriansyah could broker a drug deal within prison came as no surprise.

“It often happens. A drug convict can easily give instructions to those on the outside. This is obviously a prison security problem,” he told UCA News.

He suggested prison authorities monitor prison visits more closely.

There are at least 274 death row inmates in Indonesia. Of this number, 90 are convicted drug traffickers.

The last executions took place in 2016 when four inmates were shot by firing squad after being convicted of drug trafficking. 

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