Aus govt key to Bali drug accused's fate

The fate of an Australian man facing drug charges in Indonesia will rest largely on negotiations with the Australian government, an expert says.

An Australian man is escorted by officers.

An Australian man accused of bringing drugs into Bali says he is simply an addict. (AAP) Source: SBS

An accountant and one-time federal election candidate facing drug charges in Indonesia will need help from the Australian government to avoid a possible death penalty, an international law expert believes.

Isaac Emmanuel Roberts, 35, was arrested following his arrival in Bali from Bangkok on December 4.

He is accused of carrying 19 grams of amphetamine and ecstasy pills in his luggage.

Paraded by Bali police in orange prison garb and a balaclava on Tuesday, Roberts suggested he had been set up by Indonesian authorities and labelled his arrest "ridiculous".

Roberts reportedly faces charges of importing more than five grams of drugs under article 113, which carries a maximum punishment of death and a minimum of five years jail.

During Tuesday's parade the Toowoomba-born man labelled himself a "f***ing addict" and said he wasn't going to sell the drugs.

Melanie O'Brien, of the University of Queensland, says the punishment Roberts will face could come down to negotiations between the Indonesian and Australian governments.

Australian traffickers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad in 2015, 10 years after their arrest as the ringleaders of a heroin smuggling operation.

The executions strained relations between Jakarta and Canberra and prompted Australia to temporarily recall its ambassador in protest.

"Indonesia takes a very strong stance on drug offences so they don't like being told what to do by countries such as Australia but on the other hand Australia is an important country for Indonesia to have a good relationship with," Dr O'Brien told AAP.

"They can't afford entirely to say no, we're not going to engage in any kind of diplomacy over this issue."

Roberts' lawyer has told News Corp Australia his client was taken to hospital following Tuesday's parade in front of journalists due to shock over the media attention.

It's reported Roberts has a history of depression.

Dr O'Brien said the addition of a balaclava over Roberts' face was a new technique for Indonesian police but the parading of foreigners accused of drug offences was a deliberate statement.

"To get that out there and into the media is part of their preventive measures - it's their way of publicising, 'Hey foreigners, you do this, we will get you, we will put you in jail and possibly give you the death penalty'," she said.

Roberts was the Liberal Democratic Party's candidate for the federal seat of Higgins in 2009 after former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello resigned from parliament.

"I recall Isaac Roberts' name but not much else other than he was a candidate for us in a by-election in Higgins in 2009. I never met him," LDP leader David Leyonhjelm said.

Roberts received only 336 votes in the by-election, which was won by LIberal Kelly O'Dwyer.

The LDP told AAP they had no record of Roberts on their membership database following the by-election.

Roberts won the National Advanced Tax Dux Award in 2012 but was reprimanded and fined $3100 by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand in 2015 after failing to reply to correspondence.

3 min read
Published 20 December 2017 at 2:54pm