Europeans Jailed for Life over Drug Factory

JAKARTA ~ A judge has sentenced two Europeans to life in prison for their role in running the world’s third-largest ecstasy factory, while the two Indonesian co-owners of the plant were handed death sentences.

Judge Mulyanto found Dutchman Nicolaas Garnick Josephus Gerardus, 61, and French national Serge Areski Atlaoui, 43, guilty on Monday of producing dangerous substances.

In a separate trial at the same court building, Judge Zaid Umar Bob Said sentenced the two employers of the two Europeans, Benny Sudrajat and Iming Susanto, each to the death penalty.

Sudrajat, the court heard, had provided the land and buildings for the plant, while Santoso paid for the equipment and its operation.

Police seized more than 100 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, thousands of ecstasy pills and more than 300 drums of raw ingredients for drugs during a raid last November on the factory in Serang, 60 kilometers west of Jakarta.

Prosecutors said the plant was “the largest ecstasy factory ever found in Southeast Asia and the world’s third-largest, after factories in China and Fiji,” and recommended the judge pass the death sentence.

The factory was capable of producing one million ecstasy pills, worth Rp100 billion (US$11 million) a week, they said.

The lawyer for both Europeans, Aprilson Purba, requested time to decide whether to appeal. The prosecutors had recommended the death penalty for both men.

“No (it’s not fair), because of wrong publicity given by the media and because of the wrong publicity by the minister of justice,” Garnick told journalists after the trial. He did not elaborate.

Atlaoui said he also thought the trial had been unfair, without explaining further.

The men were hired for their expertise in producing MDMA, the substance required to make ecstasy pills, the Tanggerang District Court heard.

Meanwhile, Judge Mahanikmah sentenced five Chinese nationals to 20 years in jail each for helping organize the production of drugs at the plant, in a separate trial held at the same court.

Prosecutors had recommended death sentences for the five, identified as Lhang Manquan, Chin Hongxin, Jiang Yuxin, Gan Chinyi, and Zhu Xuxiong.

Four other Indonesians were also to be sentenced in the same case.

Indonesian courts have increasingly handed down stiff punishments for drug crimes.

At least 43 people are now on death row for drug offences in Indonesia.

The majority of them are foreigners, mostly from Africa. Six Australians are also among those sentenced to death by firing squad for leading an attempt to smuggle heroin from Bali to Sydney.

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