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Indonesian law required a jail term of four to five years for possession of drugs


Leslie bribery claim probed
Rob Taylor

INDONESIA'S judicial watchdog is investigating bribery allegations surrounding the three-month jail sentence for Australian model Michelle Leslie for using ecstasy.

At least one National Judicial Commission member described the sentence as "too light".

"We want to get confirmation from the Denpasar District Court about the decision. We want an explanation from the judges," commission chief Busyro Muqoddas said yesterday.

He said he wanted to conduct a swift inquiry and would seek "a clear explanation" from the case's three judges to determine "if there is an element of bribery or ethics violation".

Leslie was released last week, the day after the sentence was imposed. She had already been in custody in Bali for three months, since her August 20 arrest for possessing two ecstasy tablets outside a dance party.

Her Australian lawyer Ross Hill has denied bribery allegations that appeared in the Australian media soon after her return.

Yesterday's Bali Post newspaper quoted Sukoco Suprapto, another member of the commission, as believing the three-month sentence was inadequate. The commission has written telling the three judges it will examine their decision, which prosecutors had supported.

The Post said Indonesian law required a jail term of four to five years for possession of drugs, or receiving drugs.

"The sentence received by Leslie is very light," Suprapto said.

"Hopefully, it was because of weaknesses in the Indonesian legal system and was not politically (motivated) because of Australian pressure."

Indonesia's Government has promised to tackle official corruption and has pinpointed the judicial system as being among its most graft-ridden sectors.

Muqoddas said the commission had decided to examine the Leslie case because of public pressure and "this issue surfaced in the mass media".

Bali lawyer Mohammad Rifan – who was initially hired, but then fired, by Leslie soon after her arrest – described the length of the sentence as strange. He said Chief Judge I Made Sudia had previously sentenced two people to 18 months' jail for offences similar to Leslie's.

"It could cause him a lot of trouble. It could hurt his career," Rifan said.

Yesterday, Sudia insisted the three-month sentence had been appropriate for Leslie's offence.

Meanwhile, Bali police chief General I Made Mangku Pastika yesterday denied allegations that his officers had accepted bribes or that he had been approached but turned down $27,000.

"No, it is absolutely not true. How can I have accepted the money if Leslie's team has never met me?" he said.

Pastika said police had correctly supervised urine and blood tests as evidence and both had shown positive for drugs.

Asked whether Leslie's three-month sentence was fair, Pastika said: "That's not my problem – that depends on the judges' decision."