French man arrested for Emirates drug smuggling attempt

Indonesian officials arrest a French man who they say attempted to smuggle more than 5kg of crystal methamphetamine into the Emirates. He could now face the death penalty or a life sentence.

Indonesian officers stand behind three drug smuggling suspects from Iran, France and Indonesia during a press conference in Jakarta this week.
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ABU DHABI // Indonesian officials reinforced the country's strict drug trafficking laws this week by announcing the arrest of a French man who they say attempted to smuggle more than 5kg of crystal methamphetamine on an Emirates Airline flight into Jakarta.

Anyone caught attempting to smuggle more than five grams of narcotics into the country could face the death penalty or a life sentence, said Hannan Hadi, the head of the consular section at the Indonesian embassy in Abu Dhabi.

"Smuggling narcotics is considered a very serious crime in Indonesia," he said. "Drug smuggling and trafficking carries stiff penalties under Law number 35 of 2009 on narcotics."

Police held their press conference on Monday to announce the arrest of the 53-year-old French national. They say he attempted to smuggle 5.1kg of the drug, worth an estimated US$843,600 (Dh3 million), into the country on January 11.

The man was arrested after his Emirates Airline flight, reportedly from Istanbul via Dubai, landed in Jakarta.

The official said the man hid the drug inside the lining of his suitcase. Police have also arrested an Iranian man, Abbas Bidmal Gharibali, 41; and an Indonesian woman, Decywarti Wirahardja, 42; who police say were expected to receive the package.

In 2010, Indonesia registered 61 cases involving drug syndicates. Fifty-eight were sentenced to death: 17 were Indonesians and the rest were foreign nationals, he said.

An Emirates spokeswoman yesterday said the airline does not give out passenger details, and so will not comment on the incident.

* With additional reporting from Agence-France Presse