Bali drug boy paraded in front of media

TOM ALLARD AND AMILIA ROSA
Last updated 16:44 23/10/2011
The Australian teenager charged with drug offences in Bali attends a press conference after moving jails.
HANSEL NASHYO/Fairfax Australia

BOY IN THE MASK: The Australian teenager charged with drug offences in Bali attends a press conference after moving jails.

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The 14-year-old boy facing drug charges in Bali spent last night with asylum seekers in an immigration detention centre after being suddenly shifted from his police cell following the intervention of Indonesia's Justice Minister.

Shielding his face from the cameras, the teenager wore a half balaclava, sunglasses and hat as he arrived at the facility at Jimbaran Bay, which has recently been rebuilt after asylum seekers burnt much of it down last year.

In bizarre scenes, the teenager from Morisset Park on Lake Macquarie was even required to attend a press conference where the move was explained, although he did not say anything and reporters were requested not to ask questions.

Taswem Taribh, the head of the Bali office of the Justice Ministry, said  the teenager had been moved in dramatic circumstances.

''After a brief, incognito visit from Minister of Justice and Human Rights Amir Syamsuddin earlier today to Kerobokan prison, [he decided] that the situation in Kerobokan was inhumane,'' Mr Taswem said. ''There's no more space, it's inhumane. He's a juvenile, and here the food is good, and he will also be able to play, like a young person.''

The youth will have his own cell and  his parents will be able to stay next to him  as he awaits his court appearance. His lawyers hope to convince the judge  the teenager is an addict and should be freed  for rehabilitation in the care of his parents.

The immigration centre is austere but a vast improvement on crowded Kerobokan prison, where the boy could have  gone. There are 36asylum seekers staying there from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. Among them are several children.

His lawyer, Mohammad Rifan, said the boy was  upset and stressed while being paraded in front of media, but     a much better outcome was achieved.

''The detention over here is much better than in the police [cells] and in the Kerobokan,'' he said after delivering the boy to the new facility. ''I ask him not to worry.  He's quite happy with my explanation because I already check inside. Much, much better.''

The schoolboy was arrested on October4 after allegedly purchasing 3.6 grams of marijuana while on holidays in Bali with his parents. He faces three charges, two of which carry prison terms. He is expected to go to trial within weeks.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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