Indonesia sentences Frenchman to death

He was found guilty of trying to smuggle ecstasy and amphetamines
Indonesia sentences Frenchman to death

Frenchman Felix Dorfin arrives at a court in Mataram on the resort island of Lombok on May 20. The court sentenced him to death for drug smuggling, in a surprise verdict after prosecutors asked for a 20-year jail term. (Photo by Arsyad Ali/AFP)

An Indonesian district court's sentencing of Frenchman Felix Dorfin to death for drug smuggling has renewed debate in Asia on what critics say is a practice that does not prevent socially harmful substance abuse.

The ultimate penalty was handed down on May 20 by the Mataram District Court in West Nusa Tenggara province despite the prosecutor only asking for a 20-year prison term and a fine of US$700,000.

Dorfin was found by the court to have last September carried three kilograms of drugs, including ecstasy and amphetamines, on a flight from Singapore to the Indonesian tourist island of Lombok near Bali.

The Antara state news agency reported presiding judge Isnurul Syamsul Arif as stating; "His actions have the potential to damage the younger generation and disrupt national security."

Antara reported that Dorfin planned to appeal.

In January, Dorfin was in the public spotlight when he escaped from police detention despite purportedly tight security arrangements.

There was an allegation that a female police officer assisted the escape in exchange for money, but no further investigation was conducted into the claim, according to media reports.

Police later recaptured Dorfin from a hiding place in a forest.

Daniel Awigra from the Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in ASEAN said he regretted the court ruling and believed that Dorfin could have been more a courier than a drug dealer.

It would be better to work with him to dismantle the drug network involved, Awigra said.

He said that on humanitarian grounds the judges should have taken into account the fact that Dorfin has a child who needs to be taken care of in Thailand, adding that the death penalty is ineffective in reducing drug crimes.

Catholic human rights lawyer Azas Tigor Nainggolan said handing down the death sentence was inconsistent with Indonesia having stopped carrying out executions during the past few years.  

Drugs would be best combated by making the legal system more effective, not least by tackling official corruption, Nainggolan told

President Joko Widodo's administration executed 14 people after it came to power in 2014, but there have been no executions since 2016.

According to Amnesty International Indonesia, there are still 299 prisoners on 'death row' in Indonesia, including another Frenchman, Serge Atlaoui, who was sentenced to death in 2007.

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In 2015, Australian heroin traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad in Indonesia.

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