An Indonesian court sentenced a French citizen to death for smuggling drugs on Monday in a surprisingly draconian verdict that outstripped the prosecutors’ requests for a long prison sentence.
Felix Dorfin, 35, was arrested in September at an airport in the tourist island of Lombok with methylenedioxy methamphetamine worth $220,600 and 22 ecstasy pills in his suitcase, according to the Associated Press.
Despite Dorfin’s eligibility for capital punishment, prosecutors had asked for a 20-year jail term plus another year unless he paid a fine of about $700,000, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The strict sentence came as a surprise.
“Dorfin was shocked,” the defendant’s lawyer, Deny Nur Indra, told AFP. “He didn’t expect this at all because prosecutors only asked for 20 years.” His lawyer said he would appeal the verdict.
Indonesia has some of the world’s strictest anti-drug laws, and foreigners implicated in drug smuggling cases have been executed before.
The judge, Isnurul Syamsul Arif, cited Dorfin’s involvement in an international drug smuggling ring and the large quantity of drugs he carried as aggravating factors, according to AFP.
“The defendant’s actions could potentially do damage to the younger generation,” Arif added, reports AFP.
The Frenchman, who said he did not know the contents of his suitcase, made headlines earlier this year when he escaped from jail, according to AFP. He was re-captured two weeks later.
AFP reports that the French foreign ministry issued a statement condemning Indonesia’s decision to use of the death penalty.
Indonesia sentenced at least 48 people to death in 2018, 39 for drug-related offenses, according to Amnesty International. However, last year was the second year in which the country did not commit any executions.