Frenchman faces 17-year term on Indonesia meth charges

Francois Giuily of France waits inside a holding cell before his trial hearing at Denpasar court on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on May 5, 2014. An Indonesian prosecutor on Monday, June 9, 2014, recommended a 17-year jail sentence for a Fre
Francois Giuily of France waits inside a holding cell before his trial hearing at Denpasar court on Indonesia's resort island of Bali on May 5, 2014. An Indonesian prosecutor on Monday, June 9, 2014, recommended a 17-year jail sentence for a Frenchman accused of smuggling a huge stash of crystal methamphetamine into the resort island of Bali. -- PHOTO: AFP

DENPASAR, Indonesia (AFP) - An Indonesian prosecutor on Monday recommended a 17-year jail sentence for a Frenchman accused of smuggling a huge stash of crystal methamphetamine into the resort island of Bali.

Francois Giuily, 49, was arrested in January at Bali airport with more than three kilos (6.8 pounds) of the drug hidden in two plastic bags in his suitcase lining, according to prosecutors.

Customs officials said at the time of his arrest that the drugs had a street value of around US$500,000 (S$625,925).

Prosecutor Gusti Putu Gede Atmaja told a court in the Balinese capital Denpasar that he was recommending a 17-year jail sentence and a fine of 10 billion rupiah (S$1.1 million).

If the Frenchman did not pay the fine, he would have to serve an additional three months in jail, he said.

"The defendant's action is against the government's programme to eradicate drug use and his action could tarnish the image of Bali as a place for tourists," he said.

Smuggling such a large quantity of drugs into Indonesia can be punishable by death under the country's anti-drugs laws, which are some of the toughest in the world.

However Atmaja said that prosecutors were taking Giuily's clean record into account.

Judges do not always stick by prosecutors' recommendations, however.

British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford, who was caught smuggling cocaine into Bali, was handed a death sentence in January last year despite prosecutors recommending a 15-year jail term.

Foreigners are regularly caught with drugs in Indonesia, many of them on hard-partying Bali, and several are on death row.

Giuily was arrested the day before another Frenchman, Michael Blanc, was released on parole from prison in Indonesia after serving 14 years for drug smuggling.

French national Serge Atlaoui is on death row in Indonesia. He was handed the penalty in 2007 after he was caught working in a drugs factory outside the capital Jakarta.