Indonesia: Life for man, 73, caught with drugs

Japanese national Masaru Kawada, center, is mobbed by the media upon arrival for his sentencing hearing at the district court in Pariaman, West Sumatra, Indonesia. Picture: AP
Japanese national Masaru Kawada, center, is mobbed by the media upon arrival for his sentencing hearing at the district court in Pariaman, West Sumatra, Indonesia. Picture: AP
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A JAPANESE man who says he was deceived into carrying someone else’s bag on a flight into Indonesia has been sentenced to life in prison for smuggling methamphetamine.

Masaru Kawada, 73, was arrested in November at Minangkabau Airport in West Sumatra’s capital Padang after customs officials found 2.35 kilograms (more than 5lbs) of crystal methamphetamine in his luggage.

A three-judge panel at the District Court in Pariaman yesterday found Kawada guilty, saying his actions had damaged official attempts to stamp out the drug trade.

“We found no reason to lighten his sentence,” said presiding judge Jon Effreddi.

Chief state prosecutor Budi Prihalda said they recommended a light sentence of 16 years because of the defendant’s age. Kawada’s lawyer said they would appeal.

The grandfather of two was believed to be one of the oldest drug smugglers to be sentenced in Indonesia, which has extremely strict drug laws and often executes smugglers. More than 130 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes.