Michaël Blanc

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Michael Blanc
Born 1974 (1974)
Bonneville, France
Occupation Chef, Interior Decorator
Criminal penalty Life imprisonment
Criminal status Paroled

Michaël Loïc Blanc (born 1974) is a French national who was convicted of drug trafficking in Indonesia after 3.8 kilograms of hashish was found in his diving gear when he attempted to re-enter Bali, Indonesia in December 1999.

Sentenced to life imprisonment, he served 14 years in Cipinang Prison, in the Jakarta area.[1] His case, which has been compared to imprisoned Australian tourist Schapelle Corby,[2] received media coverage by both the French and Indonesian press, and was featured on prime time news shows Sept à huit[3] and Tout le monde en parle in France.[4]

Early life and arrest[edit]

The youngest of three children, Michael Blanc was born in 1974 to Jean-Claude Blanc and Hélène Le Touzey in Bonneville in the department of Haute-Savoie in southeastern France.[5] Leaving France in 1993, Blanc travelled to Senegal and later spent time in the Caribbean, Greece, India, Malaysia and Thailand working at various times as a chef and interior decorator during the 1990s.[5]

He had been living in Bali for a year when, after returning from a trip to India, he was detained by immigration officials at Ngurah Rai Airport on December 26, 1999. A bag in his possession containing two diving tanks was inspected after having gone through an X-ray machine. Blanc gave his consent to have his luggage checked by police dogs. Drilling open the tanks, officials found a total of 189 rolls and 178 tablets of hashish, weighing 3.8 kilograms, in the diving tanks.[5]

Interviewed by investigators of the Directorate General of Customs, Blanc denied any knowledge of the drugs claiming the diving tanks belonged to an acquaintance named Philip, a Frenchman of Israeli descent who lived in Paris. Having met at a café in Seminyak, Bali, the two travelled to India and, on their return to Bali, Philip had disappeared after they had arrived at the airport. However, during the interview, Blanc was unable to provide sufficient evidence to satisfactorily identify Philip.[5]

Trial and conviction[edit]

Arrested by the Denpasar police, Blanc was held in their detention center where he met with his lawyer Dwi Surya Adibudi SH.[5] The French Honorary Consul in Bali contacted his family and, in August 2000, his mother Hélène was granted a leave of absence from her accounting job and flew to Bali to attend her son's trial.[5]

During the trial, Blanc's lawyer argued that there had been a breach of procedure by airport officials. He pointed out that Blanc was not searched in the same room as the evidence in question, and was not provided a French-speaking interpreter during his interview with officials.[5] Blanc had also asked police to check the tanks for fingerprints, however they had failed to comply with his request.[citation needed]

While prosecutors had called for the death penalty in this case, the Denpasar court found Blanc guilty of drug trafficking and sentenced him to life in prison on November 16, 2000. He was imprisoned in Kerobokan Prison on Bali, then was transferred to Madiun, East Java and finally jailed in Cipinang, Jakarta Indonesia.[5]

Appeal and public outcry[edit]

Immediately after the conviction, both Adibudi and the prosecution unsuccessfully appealed the judge's decision to the Denpasar Appellate Court.[5]

Hélène Le Touzey continued to campaign for her son's release and appealed to the Indonesian Supreme Court. Blanc's conviction was upheld[5] and, in addition, he was fined an $70,000 on June 14, 2001.[citation needed] During the appeal, a French government official had told Le Touzey that it would cost her between 800,000 to ₣ 1,000,000 (roughly $203,000-$254,000) to secure a reduced sentence for Blanc however she refused to pay.[citation needed]

The French Foreign Ministry made diplomatic requests for Blanc's extradition and, in January 2005, French President Jacques Chirac asked Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda about the possibility of moving Blanc to a French prison while Hassan was speaking at a hearing with the House of Representatives' Commission I.[6] His sentence was reduced to 20 years in 2008.[7]

Release and parole[edit]

On 20 January 2014 Blanc was freed and paroled from the prison but will have to stay in Indonesia until his final release date on 21 July 2017 according to the parole agreement.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Jakarta, Michaël Blanc se réadapte à la liberté". liberation.fr. liberation. Archived from the original on 21 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  2. ^ "Freedom fighter tells Corby not to give up". The Age. 16 April 2005
  3. ^ L'Emission, Krinein magazine 10 December 2005
  4. ^ "Le Grand Journal : Thierry Ardisson, en larmes, se dit bouleversé par la libération de Michaël Blanc". gentside.com. Gentside. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Helene, A Lengthy Devotion". phaseloop.com. Foreign Prisoner Support Service. Archived from the original on 21 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "FPSS" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ "France Also Seeking Transfer-Of-Prisoners Agreement With RI". The Indonesian National News Agency. June 8, 2005
  7. ^ "Drug Smuggler Michael Blanc Freed In Indonesia". news.sky.com. Sky. Archived from the original on 21 September 2015. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  8. ^ "Michael Blanc, libéré après quatorze ans de prison en Indonésie". lemonde.fr. Le Monde. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 

External links[edit]