Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Two Ecstasy Pills

Schappelle Corby is about to get some company. 24 year old Australian model Michelle Leslie was arrested Saturday night in Bali after police searched her handbag and found two ecstasy pills. She faces 15 years in prison. No bail is allowed.

Pictures of Michelle and the pills are here.

Police said the two pink ecstasy pills which could land Leslie in jail for a lengthy stretch cost less than $50 or about 300,000 Indonesian rupiah. Because the drug was grouped with other hallucinogens such as speed, the maximum sentence was a 15-year jail term.

As soon as Leslie appoints a lawyer, police will conduct formal interrogations, which could begin as early as today. However, as there is no provision for bail under Indonesian law, she will continue to be held in the police cells until the investigation is complete and she is charged or released.

More news here.

Update: Michelle Leslie has a lawyer now who is focusing on having the authorities charge her with a five year offense instead of the 15 year one.

< Iraq Leaders Delay Constitution | The Death Penalty: Perpetuating A Resilient Pestilence >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • It it time for travellers to seriously start boycotting Bali. It just isn't safe to travel there.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#2)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:36 PM EST
    Damn right, I get enough tyranny here at home...Bali is freakin' ridiculous.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#3)
    by TomK on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:36 PM EST
    What a great place Bali must be. 15 years for 2 pills. Wow. This is justice, huh? What a great world.

    You know it's only a matter of time before the TV networks jump all over this "Models in Prison" reality format.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#5)
    by Rich on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:36 PM EST
    Even locales that are based on tourism get sick of foreigners viewing them as places where they can engage in any number of culturally inappropriate pursuits like nude bathing. There are a variety of resorts in SE Asia that have become notorious for the amount of drug use that takes place, often resulting injuries, ODs, etc. The Full Moon parties in the islands near Ko Samui in Thailand are a good examples. In that sense, I'm happy to see Indonesia take this step to discourage drug use and, frankly, cultural pollution. OTOH, police forces often take advantage of the situation and plant drugs, entrap people, etc. I don't know the situation in Bali, but I would expect the worst of local authorities. Still, it's difficult for me to have compassion for someone who feels priviliged enough to flaunt the local laws and customs. I've lived overseas and have seen more than enough of this.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#6)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    I'm happy to see Indonesia take this step to discourage drug use
    You make it sound like Bali is putting up some "Just Say No" posters. They put people in chains for 15 years for 2 little pills. That, my friend, is the cultural pollution. Their drug policies are twice as insane as ours, and that's saying something.

    fwiw, some the other articles I googled about her suggest she could get off with no time at all, others say several months, and still others say up to 10 years.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#8)
    by Patrick on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    Sarcastic... Well those reports just aren't sensational enough to get people worked up dontcha know...

    Sarcastic, the articles also say that while that might be her ultimate sentence, there is no bail and she will spend many months in jail just waiting for a resolution of the charges.

    I certainly don't agree with 15 year sentences for ecstasy pills, but the flip side of this is that there are a lot of careless travelers out there who don't realize that in much of the "third world", penalties for drug possession are far stiffer, and far harder to evade when one is caught, than they are in the developed countries. For instance, there are a number of Americans, including Americans with very well-to-do backgrounds, who are in Latin American jails serving 20 year sentences for drug possession, because they blithely assumed that they could do the same things in foreign countries as they could do in their own country. I am not saying this is a good thing. As I said, I don't think people should go to jail for 15 years for MDMA possession. But I do think that people who regularly travel to foreign countries (i.e., the "jet set", including fashion models) ought to take the time to learn something about the laws and customs of foreign countries that they visit before they blithely assume that they can simply bring their lifestyle over to that country. When you are in a foreign land, your home country-- and it's customs-- can't help you much. Savvy travelers know that.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#11)
    by Kitt on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    In all seriousness, why - why - WHY would do anything after Ms Corby's fight? Take anything with you? Buy anything? Let anyone (friend or foe) put anything in your bag. Looks aren't getting anyone out of these messes. When we traveled at that age in Europe, Asia & various islands, we took nothing and bought nothing. We did drink but even getting drunk wasn't an option, although on Mykonos we made an exception. And now for damned sure I wouldn't do it. And - we won't be going to Bali when we go in the spring to that part of the world.

    What part of zero tolerance is not clear? When I was last in Singapore (5 years ago) the signs in customs were explicit about prison terms. And the bathrooms right before customs had large trash cans with locked lids and swinging metal doors. Not that I think this is fair, but multiculturally speaking, how can you really complain. Plus, of course, there is the racist issue of how it's only an issue when a white woman is troubled. No mention of the thousands of Fillipino woman also jailed.... -C

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#13)
    by TomK on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    Our drug policy isn't quite as bad, yet, but police in Utah are fast catching up with countries like indonesia. It's only because people like talkleft and the ACLU fight so hard that we aren't there yet. Are there still black people in texas jails serving time for joints they got caught with in the 70s? If so, then we are exactly as bad as countries like indonesia, with our system of expensive defense lawyers and selective racial prosecution replacing the indonesian bribery system.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#14)
    by Rich on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    kdog--anybody travelguide to the region mentions the drug penalties. Moroever, the use of "club drugs" like "X" is not common in this region among locals. There's no reason to assume that foreigners will get a break. there's no reason to even defend doing something that is culturally inapppropriate. If foreign tourists wanna take a risk, then this is what will happen. I can't defend bringing ecstacy to Indonesia. It's just stupid and she's just another selfish foreigner--the Australian version of an "ugly American".

    She's not charged with bringing Ecstasy into Bali. She's charged with having two pills in her purse they think she bought from an Indonesian the day before. How can you not imagine a scenario like this: The Bali government declares an all out war on drugs. A woman goes to a night club - someone brushes against her and slips two pills in her purse. He tells the local cops he saw a foreign woman buy drugs from a local. He describes her and the car she left the club in. The cops then stop the car after it leaves the nightclub and search it and everyone in it. The Bali government gets its headline - foreign tourist arrested for drugs - the snitch who planted the pills and dropped the dime on her gets some money for his efforts from the local cops - and he is back on the street to do it again. Next time it could be you or your kid that falls prey to the scheme. Think of him like a pickpocket in reverse. As easy as it is to take a wallet, it must be easier to plant a few pills. As for her alleged statement she was "overheard" making to her friend, ask yourself how many of these local cops speak English? The answer likely is not very many. How curious that they not only overheard her comment to her friend, but could translate it verbatim. And wonder of wonders, it was incriminating. Can you spell set-up?

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#16)
    by kipling on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    But later, Bali police spokesman Colonel AS Reniban said Leslie had told detectives she bought the tablets from a "young man" the day before she was arrested.
    So we can expect this "young man" in jail, without bail, until his guilt has been proved (which is a foregone conclusion; Bali police never make mistakes), any day soon, right? TL, it stinks of setup I agree, but I don't get what the benefits are to Bali, or Indonesia, for doing that. What they get is a lot of bad press and calls for boycotting the tourist spot. Can anybody enlighten me here?

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#17)
    by swingvote on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    TL, I think kipling raises an interesting question, for I can also imagine a scenario where a well-intentioned individual, hoping to push the issue of Bali's extreme drug laws onto the international stage, sets herself up with what most westerners would consider a piddling amount of a relatively low-grade controlled substance just to highlight how harsh Bali is on these things. Sure, this would take a dedicated individual, and I don't think it's happened here, but it's no less plausible than the Bali government setting up some model with a minute amount of drugs. After all, what do they stand to gain out of this other than a bad reputation? It's not as if they could have any hope of getting her to turn over the guy she bought them from, since, under your premise, he's working for them anyway. And it's not as if they are making a dent in the recreational drug trade, since, under your premise, she wasn't really part of it in the first place. So why would they do it? Personally, I think this is just another dimwit who thought, probably based on several years of experience, that the rules don't apply to her, and she chose the wrong place to find out that, in fact, they do. Which is not to say I think Bali's laws are reasonable, but it's their country and their laws. If they choose to make drug possession a major offense, even when it's possession of minute quantities, you have to take that seriously. I hope she doesn't get the book thrown at her, as I believe there must be things the Balinese government could be taking more seriously, but then I'm not in Bali, and I don't really have any right to tell them how to run their country, any more than they have any right to tell us how to run ours. I've traveled overseas enough to know that you have to acquaint yourself with the laws and the mores of the place you are visiting before going there. It looks like Michelle Leslie is learning that right now.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#18)
    by Rich on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    It was not clear from the link how she got the pills. I've already noted the possible role of police corruption, but that does not mitigate her stupidity. I've worked in SE Asia for 12 years and do research that touches on drug use. The region has some indigenous drug problems like opiate and methamphetamine abuse, and cannibis is fairly common, along with alcohol. Club drugs don't have much of an indigenous market and tend to be come with or be drawn by foreign tourists. Again, anyone who's looked at a Lonely Planet guide or listened to the "world traveler buzz" (often based on guidebook info) should know that the penalties in Indonesia & elsewhere are stiff and that there are scams and scamy local authorities. She may not deserve 15 years for this, but she's no poster child for human rights--instead of letting your heart bleed for dimwitted, overprivileged foreigners mucking around Third World countries why not pick a real problem like human trafficking in the region or the more widespread corruption of police that touches ordinary local people. This woman sounds much like far too many foreigners I've met in SE Asia and she probably deserves to cool her heels in jail for awhile.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:37 PM EST
    I'm not saying this girl should get special treatment, or that the rules aren't clear, just that this is shear madness. I'm saying the Balinese govt. is the real criminal, and people that care about human rights should put pressure on Bali to not put people in chains over their choice in vice. Unfortunatly, the US and most of the world has no moral leg to stand on, we all take this madman approach to drugs. Madness.

    One thing that should be noted about the "set up" stories is that many people allege that they were set up when they get caught with drugs in countries that have these long mandatory prison sentences, because it's just about the only defense they have. I am not saying nobody ever gets set up-- for instance, it is well known that you need to watch your bags at many Latin American airports because someone might try to use you as an unwitting drug smuggler. But it is likely that the vast majority of the people who are jailed in these sorts of situations are people who blithely assumed that the same lax drug enforcement that prevails in the developed world would also prevail in the third world country they were visiting. One other thing. A couple of posters have suggested a boycott of Bali for this. While again, I don't support 15 year prison sentences, or really any prison sentences, for MDMA possession, this isn't a human rights issue. You really don't have the right to take recreational drugs everywhere you want to, and it really is a sovereign government's prerogative to decide whether they want to let you do it.

    Kipling, there's been no information that whoever sold or passed the pills to her also was arrested. In my professional experience, although none with Bali, it's just as likely he was a paid informant. Just Paul, you're dreaming if you think this woman in particular would set herself up for the attention. She's one of Australia's most famous models and lives with the heir to a $200 million fortune. No way would she purposely go to jail. Her hysteria after being arrested also blows your argument. Last point: The boycott is not for human rights. It's for the safety of foreign travelers - particularly young people - who may get set up or who may be guilty and get arrested there. If there's a setup, being innocent is no protection. There are plenty of gorgeous beaches around the world. Why take a chance with 15 to 20 years of your life for what is either a youthful indiscretion or a frame-up? Kids experiment with drugs, particularly on vacation. Knowing the laws are that horrendous in Bali, instead of getting them to change their ways, which probably is impossible, just keep them from going to Bali.

    TalkLeft: To the contrary, I think most people, including most young people, who want to visit a particular foreign country, are able to obey that country's drug laws if they are informed of them. Specifically, I have had some tangential involvement with "study abroad" programs in Latin America, and college students who participate in them are routinely warned of the importance both of not purchasing or possessing any drugs, and of watching their belongings at all times to avoid set-ups. They take these warnings seriously. Indeed, anyone, even a young adult or teenager, who cannot conform themselves to a foreign country's drug laws while on vacation has a serious addiction problem and probably shouldn't be traveling anywhere, even to Amsterdam. The fact is, there is no reason to boycott places that take drug enforcement seriously. Some of my favorite places to visit in the world (such as, for instance, Peru, which is a charming country) are places where even possession of small amounts of drugs merits a huge prison sentence and where you have to constantly watch your belongings to ensure that nobody plants drugs on your person or in your bags. To "boycott" such places is literally to confine your travel to a relatively small number of places in the developed world that have either liberal drug laws or lax enforcement. And further, such a boycott implies that Bali doesn't have the right to have a different attitude about drugs than other countries do, or that westerners have every right to bring their hard-partying lifestyles to other countries that may have different customs, no matter what the locals think of us. Simply put, this is simply one example of something that happens all the time-- that there are a lot of people who assume that they will be subject to the same laws and customs when they travel to an exotic foreign destination as they will when they are home or on a domestic excursion. All it takes is some basic research to know that this is not the case, and all it takes is some sensible precautions as well as a little self-restraint to ensure that you will not become a victim of these sorts of policies.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#23)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:40 PM EST
    Yeah, I guess Blai has the "right" to be a backwards, tyrannical place. Doesn't mean they should be above criticism for it. Can't you see this is madness?

    kdog: Again, I would never support prison terms for possession of ecstasy, but if you believe that it is "tyrannical" for a government to prohibit drug possession, you really have a warped view of human rights. There are many basic human rights that every government should recognize-- the right to vote, free speech, freedom of religion, the right to counsel, etc. The right to take drugs has never been recognized as one of those fundamental rights, and in fact, cannot be one. The fact is, whether or not drug prohibition is a good idea, the power of governments to impose it has not only never been questioned, but is perfectly justifiable based on the fact that drug usage can harm society-- by decreasing worker productivity, increasing socially destructive behavior, etc. So there's no "tyranny"-- at least in the sense that would justify a boycott of a country-- involved when a government cracks down on drug possession. I would add, though, that even if you view this as "tyrannical", the fact of the matter is that when people DO go to Bali, they have to respect the law. If you are really unable to avoid possessing ecstasy pills everywhere you go, then you shouldn't go to Bali. But if you are really unable to go anywhere without a couple of ecstasy pills, you have much bigger problems than Bali has. And the other thing I would say is that some of the comments here are remarkably insensitive to the fact that many cultures, while welcoming Western tourists, really do not appreciate it when we travel and expect that everything should work exactly the way it does back home and that our hosts should have to bend to our ways of thinking and our customs. This is an extremely egotistical assumption. In truth, when we travel, we are expected to learn something about the laws and customs of the places we go to, and to conform ourselves to them. If the place we go to frowns on skimpy bikinis or speedos at the beach, we shouldn't wear one. If the place we go to is proud of its language and doesn't take kindly to tourists who make no attempt to learn it, we should try to learn at least a bit of it. If the place we go to is a culture that expects people to be on time for appointments, we shouldn't show up 30 minutes late and expect to be served. Similarly, there are many places on earth where drug use is not viewed as harmless recreation. There are some places where there are huge problems with addiction, or parties that get out of control, or drug smuggling and its attendant violence and political instability, and the public has demanded a crackdown on drug possession. When we go to such places, we have an obligation to respect their customs and mores (as well as their laws). Again, in the end, I think we would live in a much better world if governments did not go after people who possess small amounts of drugs for recreational use. But that doesn't mean that people should expect leniency when they do something stupid in a country where drug penalties are severe. And it also doesn't mean that governments that take a dimmer view towards drug possession are tyrannical or should be boycotted. What it does mean is simply that if someone chooses to travel internationally, that person has an obligation to respect the laws and customs of the place that he or she travels to. Anyone who doesn't know this has no business traveling to foreign countries.

    Re: Australian Model Faces 15 Years in Bali for Tw (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:02:40 PM EST
    you really have a warped view of human rights
    I respectfully disagree. Person buys or grows substance "A" and ingests it. The state catches that person in possesion of substance "A", and is placed in a cage. Now "A" can equal grass, mdma, chocolate, or pork rinds. How is the state not violating the person's human right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of hapiness? Your points about respecting the laws of other countries while traveling are valid, and I happen to agree. But to shrug ones shoulders at such barbaric punishment over a non-violent act is something I can't do. Bali deserves criticism.