Smugglers given death sentence

Eight Taiwanese drug smugglers have been sentenced to death by an Indonesian court after being arrested with around a tonne of crystal methamphetamine, known as “shabu-shabu”.

The men were arrested during raids last July, when the suspected leader was killed in a shoot out with police.

“The defendants have been found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of colluding and smuggling narcotics,” Judge Haruno Patriadi told the South Jakarta District Court.

Acting on Taiwanese intelligence, officers said they discovered around a tonne of crystal meth with an estimated value US$144 million, shipped from China, packed inside about 51 boxes.

Some of the crew were arrested at a beach in Kemayoran where the drugs were delivered around 125km west of Jakarta, while others were seized on a boat allegedly carrying 1.8 tonnes of meth near Singaporean waters at the island of Batam.

Eleven other Taiwanese drug smugglers have been executed in Indonesia in recent years.

The National Narcotics Agency recently said that more than 5 million Indonesians were drug addicts, mostly consuming crystal meth from China, Europe and South America.

It also said 72 international drug cartels were believed to be trafficking the drug around the archipelago.

Indonesia has handed out the death penalty for smugglers who carry five or more grammes.

Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in 2015, sparking diplomatic outrage.

Oil fire

The death toll from a fire at an unregulated oil well in Aceh province on the island of Sumatra rose to 22 yesterday (Thursday), according to the authorities.

The head of the Aceh Disaster Mitigation Agency, Teuku Ahmad Dadek, said 37 people were being treated at three hospitals, many with severe burns.

The newly drilled, 250-metre-deep well in Pasir Putih village in eastern Aceh district exploded on Wednesday when a crowd was trying to collect gushing oil. Five homes were damaged by fire.

“I woke up when a very loud explosion shook our house like an earthquake,” said Riska Sri Maulidyawati, 16. “All our neighbours ran out to see what happened, but another loud explosion made everyone run away in panic. Children were crying and women shouting in panic. It was really scary for me.”

Aceh has numerous commercially untapped natural gas reserves and illegal wells.

Dadek said the fire was extinguished on Thursday but gas and a mixture of water and oil were still spitting from the hole. More than 50 families were forced to leave the area.


Batam, Indonesia, which faces Singapore. Picture credit: Flickr