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130,000 dollars disappeared in the Leslie case


Judges facing Leslie bribery inquiry
By Mark Forbes Herald Correspondent in Denpasar and agencies
November 30, 2005

Indonesia's judicial watchdog has launched an investigation into the trial of Michelle Leslie, expressing concern about her "light" sentence and allegations that bribes may have been paid to assist her release.

The judicial commission yesterday wrote to the Denpasar District Court demanding a copy of the judges' decision and will summon the three judges to explain their verdict. The commission has the power to sack, suspend or reprimand judges.

The Australian model was sentenced to three months' jail for receiving two ecstasy tablets and was released due to time served earlier this month. Following a series of reports in the Herald, Leslie's lawyers conceded bribes may have been paid from $130,000 sent to Jakarta and which "disappeared".

Irawady Joenoes, head of the commission's judges' honour and ethics division, said the Denpasar judges would be summoned to give evidence once their verdict had been studied.

"The summons is to find out the truth about Australian media reports of bribery in the process of delivering the sentence," he said.

Mr Joenoes said Leslie's sentence was curious. "Don't you think it is strange, two pills found in the possession of a foreigner from a developed country, one of the superpower countries, and she is only sentenced for three months?

"There are cases like only one pill is found but because the person is a poor man, he has to serve like one year's imprisonment. So, this case is strange."

Another member of the commission, Sukoco Suprapto, told the Bali Post that Leslie's sentence was "very light".

"Hopefully, it was because of weaknesses in the Indonesian legal system and was not politically [motivated] because of Australian pressure," he said.

Any anomalies in the sentence could be referred to Indonesia's Supreme Court, he said.

Mohammad Rifan, a lawyer who was initially hired but then fired by Leslie soon after her arrest, described the court's sentence as strange.

He said Chief Judge I Made Sudia had previously sentenced two people to 18 months in jail for offences similar to Leslie's.

"It could cause him a lot of trouble. It could hurt his career," Mr Rifan said. Judge Sudia yesterday insisted the three-month sentence had been appropriate for Leslie's offence.

Bali's police chief, I Made Manggku Pastika, yesterday denied he, or other officers, had been offered bribes to assist Leslie. The length of her sentence was a matter for the judges and prosecutors, he said.

AAP reports, meanwhile, that Graham Clifford Payne, an Adelaide man arrested on drug charges, has received a letter from his Australian doctor confirming he has bipolar disorder.

The lawyer, Karle Sitanggang, said Payne used crystal meth to beat wild mood swings.