Australian man sentenced to 5 years in Bali prison for drugs

Australian national Brendon Johnsson, center, and his Indonesian partner Remi Purwati, left, sit at a courtroom during their verdict trial in Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Indonesian judges sentenced Johnsson and his partner Purwanti to five years and four months in prison for allegedly possessing cocaine. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
Australiam national Brendon Johnsson, left, sits in a courtroom during his verdict trial in Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Indonesian judges sentenced Johnsson and his partner Purwanti to five years and four months in prison for allegedly possessing cocaine. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
Australian national Brendon Johnsson, top left, walks with his Indonesian partner Remi Purwati, center, after their trial in Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Indonesian judges sentenced Johnsson and his partner Purwanti to five years and four months in prison for allegedly possessing cocaine. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
Australian national Brendon Johnsson stands in a cell before his trial in Bali, Indonesia, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Indonesian authorities arrested Johnsson in August, 2018, on allegations of cocaine possession. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

DENPASAR, Indonesia — A court in Bali has sentenced an Australian man and his Indonesian girlfriend to five years and four months in prison each for possessing cocaine.

Presiding Judge Ketut Kimiarsa told the court Wednesday that the panel of judges had exercised leniency in their sentencing, based on both defendants having no prior criminal records and expressing regret for their crime.

Brandon Johnson, from Brisbane, and his girlfriend, Remi Purwanti, were arrested with 11.6 grams (0.4 ounces) of cocaine separated into 13 plastic bags.

Kimiarsa said the crime was serious because it went against the government's program to combat the spread of narcotics and damaged the image of Indonesia's main tourist destination.

Johnson and Purwanti, who were each fined 800 million rupiah ($57,000) or an additional two months in prison, are not appealing. Asked by reporters if he accepted the sentence, Johnson replied "yes, already."

The couple was arrested in August and faced up to 20 years in prison.

Johnson, 43, had been living in Bali for four years and was described by police as a designer.

Indonesia has very strict drug laws and convicted traffickers can be executed by firing squad.

Australians Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan, key members of the so-called Bali Nine drug trafficking ring, were executed in 2015 for attempting to smuggle heroin from Indonesia to Australia in 2005.

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