Bali court hands down 17 year prison sentence to Russian who carried 2.9 kilos of cannabis in toothpaste tubes

Happy toothpaste. Photo: Flickr
Happy toothpaste. Photo: Flickr

A Russian national was sentenced to 17 years prison for trying to smuggle 2.9 kilograms of cannabis infused toothpaste, into Bali.

Roman Kalashnikov, 29, was convicted on Monday in Denpasar District Court and was also punished with a fine of Rp 2 billion—or he’ll face an additional four months locked up if he doesn’t pay it.

“The defendant is legitimately and convincingly guilty of bringing, ‘imported’ narcotics, type hashish, a violation of Article 113 Paragraph 2 of Law Number 35 Year 2009 on Narcotics,” Denpasar Chief Justice Partha Bhargawa said on Monday, as quoted by Republika.

While a 17-year sentence is quite the chunk of time, it’s actually lighter than the 20 years that prosecutors had requested. And what’s 17 years really, when he could have actually been charged with the death penalty, which can be imposed under Indonesian law when violators are caught trafficking more than one kilogram of a type I narcotic.

The Russian was apparently sentenced below the maximum 20 years that prosecutors charged him with because he was polite during trial, admitted his guilt, and had no prior convictions in Indonesia. Such displays of leniency are fairly routine in Denpasar court if defendants are well behaved, confess, and don’t have a record.

Kalashnikov made headlines in December 2016 when he was arrested by a customs officer at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport. He had come in from KL on a Malindo flight and was searched by officers at the arrival gate, who became suspicious when they saw he was carrying such a large quantity of toothpaste in his suitcase: 25 tubes, according to the Russian’s indictment. 

Officers additionally tested the Russian himself, who came up positive for drug use.

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