Family of accused Kiwi drug smuggler say he was set-up by Asian online dating scam

Where can we even begin with the turn of developments since 52-year-old kiwi Antony de Malmanche was accused of smuggling 1.7 kilograms of meth into Bali last Monday? Recap: de Malmanche was reportedly caught on Monday after flying in from Hong Kong carrying the meth in his backpack and he was not thrilled to be “paraded” in front of police

For one, de Malmanche’s family believes he was scammed. De Malmanche went overseas to Hong Kong to meet a woman he had been dating online. His family says he has been “taken advantage of in a sophisticated scam and used as a drug mule”, reports the New Zealand Herald

“Basically, the whole trip sounded dodgy. He’s quite a gullible man,” said de Malmanche’s son Ashley de Malmanche. “She lives in South Africa or somewhere. She said she would pay for his trip. I said to him ‘look, this is dodgy, people don’t just do that kind of thing. There is no such thing as a free lunch’. But he went,” Ashley said, as quoted by the New Zealand Herald. 

Apparently de Malmanche was in a vulnerable place and seeking companionship after “a few rough years.” He reportedly hadn’t told his family anything about traveling to Bali—just plans for Hong Kong and China. 

The next thing gracing headlines is that New Zealand police deny allegations that they tipped off Bali police to arrest de Malmanche at the airport.

De Malmanche’s family has set up a fundraising page on the charity website Givealittle, saying that he needs a lawyer to clear his name and cash for food. However, based on its reception of Facebook, a lot of people don’t feel sorry for him. As of this morning, more than USD3,000 has been raised for him, reports New Zealand’s ONE News.

And finally, the lawyer of the infamous Schapelle Corby who was convicted for smuggling drugs, believes Indonesian authorities will seek death by firing squad if de Malmanche is convicted.

De Malmanche’s arrest in Bali last Monday comes after Indonesian authorities have been talking about applying the death penalty for drug trafficking inmates on death row. While we’ve heard from a number of high-ups on the administration’s “firmness” with capital punishment, we’re still waiting to hear from President Joko Widodo directly on the matter. 

Photo by AFP


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