July 27, 2006
An Australian woman convicted of using marijuana was sentenced to six months jail by an
Indonesian court, but should be free within weeks.
Barbara Kathleen Higgs has been
held in custody on the island of Lombok since February 19.
Court officials said her
sentence had been backdated and she would be due for release next month in time for her 44th
She was found guilty of using the drug, but was acquitted of more serious
possession and trafficking charges.
Higgs, originally from Pinjarra, Western Australia,
was not in the Lombok court.
She has been treated in an army hospital for much of this
month suffering typhoid, kidney problems and a skin condition - contracted her lawyers said
in prison where water quality is poor.
Higgs was arrested after police, acting on a tipoff,
searched the Bulan Baru (New Moon) hotel she owns with her New Zealand husband at the beach
resort of Senggigi. They allegedly found 48 grams of marijuana.
Police said Higgs had
admitted buying the drugs from a local dealer two days before the raid.
sought one year's imprisonment under tough Indonesian drug laws.
Judge Railam Silalahi,
one of the three justices hearing the case, said Higgs had received a lenient sentence because
"she frankly admitted what she had done and therefore makes the trial easier."
"She was polite and was sorry for what she had done, and she helped many people around her,
" the judge said.
During the case her lawyers stressed her community work as an editor
for a tourism magazine that has helped promote Lombok island as a tourist destination.
After the verdict was announced one of her defence lawyers said they would apply to the court to have the final few weeks of her sentence commuted to a "city detention" under which she would not be allowed to leave Lombok until her term was up.
They said this would help her recover her health.