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Kerobokan: A prime Resort for Long-Stay Aussies

By Novar Caine

The way things are going, the government may have to build a prison just for Australians. Kerobokan Jail, where the inmates are packed in like sardines, is filling up with them. It looks like there’s more on the way.

“It wasn’t mine, Guv,” was the proverbial plea we heard at the weekend when Sydney man Michael Sacatides was apprehended as he sought to make his way into the island. He may face the death penalty.

The 43-year-old kick-boxing instructor’s suitcase contained bags of psychotropic crystal methamphetamine – known as shabu-shabu in Indonesia or ice overseas – totalling 1.7 kilograms.

But it wasn’t his, you see. It wasn’t even his valise. No, the contemptible thing belonged to an Indian pal back in Bangkok, where he had flown in from on a budget flight. How he had missed the bulging drug packs in his borrowed bag is anyone’s guess. Perhaps, like our boys at customs, he needed the assistance of an x-ray scanner.

His line is going to go far with their honourables at the Denpasar District Court all right. Ignorance of the law is not only no defence; it’s also no defence to be ignorant of what you’re travelling with.

Cue our long-suffering Schlappers. The interrupted girl had a bale of marijuana in her boogieboard bag when she turned up in Bali in 2004 – 4.2 kilograms of the stuff. It also wasn’t hers, and she had no idea how it had got there. “I’m not guilty,” the beautician-in-waiting told the judges in Denpasar, shortly before they gave her 20 years in a stifling Kerobokan cell.

At least the Bali Nine had the decorum to own up to their horrendous 2005 crime. Three of them are on death row. They had been attempting to take 8.3 kilograms of heroin, strapped to their bodies, from Bali to Australia when they were picked up.

In July another dope was detained by police in Bali. A Maori who had moved to Australia and along with being naturalised changed his name to that of a Scot: Angus McCaskill. The 57-year-old had been living it up in Bali, where he spent most of his time at the equally dopey Bali glitter parties – and posted barefaced images of his substance-fuelled antics on Facebook, to the delight of news editors.

He had 3.58 grams of cocaine in five packets on his person, and said he had only been “trying” the opiate. With that much coke, it was quite a try.

Smaller Aussie fry, such as trade unionist Robert McJannett, have come and been let go, after short spells as guests of the state. But as we are seeing, there’s no end to the flow.

It is proof that the death penalty for drug trafficking in Indonesia is not what it’s ultimately designed to be: a deterrent. We don’t know the desperate circumstances that force people to become drug mules; but thoughts of the firing squad are not on their mind as they’re carrying.

Equally, some Australians don’t appear off-put by the vast media storms in recent years over their drug-snared country-people in Bali. In distressed times, it seems, logic takes a holiday.

Where is the market in Bali for this frantic trafficking? It’s in its clubs and discotheques. Last week an Indonesian man who owns one of the biggest – and notoriously drug-riddled – was stopped by police at a café where officers also found ice that’s not used for cooling drinks. But he’s a man of high influence on this island, and was let off without even a warning – all a bit of a laugh, really.

It is no laughing matter, however, when lives are being destroyed because of narcotics peddled in Bali’s night scene, when users are dying and those who supply this illicit trade are put to death themselves.