Aussie man faces Bali court on drug charges
SUNSHINE Coast man Brendon Luke Johnsson has made his first appearance in a Bali court, charged with cocaine dealing offences which carry the maximum death penalty.
Johnsson and his girlfriend Remi Purwanti made joint appearances in Denpasar District Court late Wednesday accused of charges of drug dealing and drug possession.
The 43-year-old's lawyer, Edward Pangkahila, said outside court that he was optimistic his client would not be sentenced to death despite the most serious charge carrying the penalty.
"I am optimistic that he would not be sentenced to death. Actually, he is only a drug user. He has been using drugs for many years. We will do our best to defend him in court," Mr Pangkahila said.
The defence opted not to make a legal objection to the charges and instead to go straight to hearing witnesses.
Mr Pangkahila said the prosecution's indictment against his client was based on fact and the defence would be focusing on attempting to prove in court that Johnsson was only a drug user.
Under Indonesian law, drug users and addicts, who can prove this to the court, are treated more leniently.
While the most serious charge Johnsson faces is that of drug dealing it is an alternative charge and the defence would focus on having that charge disproved in favour of the lesser charge of possession.
Johnsson, who was living and working in Bali, was arrested with his girlfriend on August 4 this year.
Urine tests for both had been positive for narcotics.
Prosecutor Yuli Peladiyanti told the court that Johnsson and Purwanti face alternative charges of drug dealing, for which the maximum sentence for more than five grams is the death penalty and of drug possession which carries a maximum 20-year sentence.
In reading the prosecution's indictment to the court, Ms Peladiyanti said the evidence consisted of 13 plastic bags of cocaine weighing a total of 11.6 grams.
"The defendants Remi Purwanti and Brendon Luke Johnsson together on Saturday August 4, 2018, at around 10.30pm in a boarding house room in Kuta … without right or against the law offered to sell, sell, buy, receive or become a broker in trading, changing or hand over type one narcotic weighing more than five grams," Ms Peladiyanti told the court.
The second alternative charge involves possessing, storing and providing a type one narcotic weighing more than five grams.
In a chronology of events, set out in the indictment, it is alleged that the arrest came after another woman, Bena Silvia Magusta, was arrested by drug squad police with four plastic packets of cocaine. She told police she got the drugs from Johnsson and Purwanti.
Police then raided their home.
"Witnesses knocked on the door of room number three where the defendants stayed but they did not open it. Police then turned off the electricity of the room. Remi Purwanti then opened the door," the indictment says.
"Police asked Remi Purwanti whether she had handed over drugs to Bena Silvia Magusta, Remi said she had … Remi said she got the drugs from Brendon Luke Johnsson who was sleeping at that time inside the room."
Police searched Remi and found no drugs but a search of the room uncovered 13 plastic packets of cocaine in a blue fabric bag inside a helmet box.
It is alleged that Johnsson got the drugs two days earlier, paying Rp40 million or about $A3700.
The first group of witnesses in the case will testify on January 9 when the case resumes after the Christmas and New Year break, meaning that Johnsson will spend his first Christmas behind bars in Kerobokan jail.
Security consultant John McLeod, of Tora Solutions, best known for his role in assisting Schapelle Corby during her chaotic release from Bali, is assisting Johnsson and was at court for the first hearing.