A 14-year-old Australian boy in Indonesia was charged with drug possession on Tuesday, a prosecutor said, but is likely to escape prison because of his age.
“We have read out the indictment today. The defendant has been charged with articles 111, 127 and 128,” I Gusti Putu Gede Atmaja said outside the court.
Under articles 127 and 128, under-age drug users can avoid prison and instead be forced to undergo medical and social rehabilitation if they can prove a documented history of drug use.
Article 111 carries a maximum sentences of 12 years though under juvenile justice laws, sentences are usually halved.
The boy has been detained for four weeks since he was arrested after he allegedly bought 6.9 grams of marijuana in the tourist area of Kuta on October 4.
To make the 14-year-old comfortable, the hearing room was decorated with curtains with a SpongeBob SquarePants motif and the judge and lawyers abandoned robes for traditional batik shirts, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.
“The boy’s reaction was normal – he was not tense. We wore batik so we didn’t look intimidating,” the boy’s lawyer, Muhammad Rifan, said.
Atmaja said two police and a psychiatrist called by prosecutors as witnesses had failed to show up, apparently strengthening the teen’s case.
Two men from a local village in Legian, neighbouring Kuta, testified that police called on them in Kuta to witness the boy in possession of the drugs, Atmaja added.
“The witnesses described the time of arrest and the search. They said that the boy himself pulled out a bag containing the drugs from the left pocket of his shorts,” Atmaja said.
He said the boy understood the three-page indictment read to him and assured the trial would move swiftly.
“There will be two sessions a week because the trial is for a child. We do that so the child does not get depressed or anxious.”
The next session is scheduled for Friday.