Pubdate: Fri, 14 Dec 2001
Source: Jakarta Post (Indonesia)
Copyright: The Jakarta Post
Author: Bahrul Ilmi Yakub


The South Sumatra High Court has imposed the death penalty on Kiagus Zainal 
Abidinagainst, who had previously been sentenced to 18 years in prison by a 
lower court for possessing 58.7 kilograms of marijuana.

Hairul Sutrisno, a clerk of the high court, told The Jakarta Post here on 
Wednesday that the decision was made by a panel of four judges in a hearing 
presided over by Judge Harifin Tumpa, in the city on Dec. 3, 2001, which 
would soon be delivered to the district court.

"The high court tried the case after the defendant appealed soon after the 
Palembang District Court sentenced him to 18 years in prison last 
September," he said.

Harifin said on Wednesday that Harifin and the other three judges, Basuki 
Suhendro, Agustinus and Loto Rungu, had unanimously decided on a death 
sentence for the defendant because of the severity of the crime.

"The defendant, along with another (accomplice) who was sentenced to 20 
years in jail, have been proven guilty of possessing the banned substance, 
and of having trafficked and sold it," he added.

"We can only imagine how many youngsters would have been affected by the 
substance were it to be sold; the defendant deserves the death penalty in 
consideration of his violation," he said.

Harifin acknowledged that the sentence was much harsher than that imposed 
by the district court, but said it was a lesson for other would-be drug 

"Marijuana or narcotics traffickers must be given the harshest penalty to 
prevent youngsters from being involved in such cases," he said.

Law No. 22/1997 on narcotics threatens a mandatory 15 years in prison for 
those found guilty of consuming and trafficking illegal drugs.

It was the first narcotics case in the province in which a person found 
guilty of possessing marijuana was given the death penalty.

Kiagus, 36, and Aldo bin Hasan Umar, 32, both residents of Palembang, were 
first arrested on Dec. 25, 2000 by local police acting on a tip from 
neighbors, according to authorities.

Aldo, who was sentenced 20 years last September, did not appeal to a higher 
court and is currently serving out his jail term at Palembang Penitentiary.

Saiman, Kiagus's lawyer, said his client was shocked by the high court's 
decision, and said he would appeal it to the Supreme Court.

"The high court's decision is not fair and not balanced with my client's 
violation," said Saiman.

Herly Salia, a criminal law expert at the University of Sriwijaya in the 
city, said she empathized with the high court's decision as an effort to 
combat the marijuana mafia in the province.

"A majority of local people support the death penalty," to stop marijuana 
traffickers, she added.

In August of 2000, the Tangerang District Court in Banten sentenced three 
people to death for their involvement in an international drug syndicate, 
and for trying to smuggle cocaine out of the country.
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