Indonesian court begins trial of Australian man in drug case

BALI, Indonesia — An Indonesian court on Monday began the trial of an Australian man who faces possible life imprisonment if convicted of possessing methamphetamine and ecstasy.

Isaac Emmanuel Roberts was arrested at Bali's Ngurah Rai airport on Dec. 4 after arriving from Bangkok. Customs officers seized 14.3 grams (0.5 ounce) of crystal methamphetamine and 14 ecstasy tablets from his luggage.

His trial began at the District Court in Denpasar, Bali's capital, where prosecutors said Roberts violated anti-narcotics laws. If found guilty, he could face from four years to life in prison and a fine of at least $4,400.

The 35-year-old accountant earlier confessed to being a drug user but denied being a dealer.

Media reports said Roberts ran as a Liberal Democrat candidate for the Higgins seat in Melbourne in 2009 but was unsuccessful.

His social media accounts show he is a gym fan who regularly visits Bali and Thailand.

Indonesia has very strict drug laws and convicted traffickers can be executed by a firing squad. More than 150 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes, and about a third of them are foreigners.

Eighteen people convicted of drug-related offenses have been executed under current President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who took office in October 2014.

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