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Giuseppe Serafino didn’t know drugs were ‘such a big crime’ in Bali, court hears

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa David Fox in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa
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Police with n Giuseppe Serafino (in orange prison clothes, right) and Briton David Fox, who have been arrested for allegedly possessing hashish in Bali. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino?in Denpasar District Court. Photo: Amilia Rosa

Briton David Fox (left) and n Giuseppe Serafino were arrested in Bali for allegedly possessing hashish. Photo: Supplied

Guiseppe “Joe” Serafino with his lawyer Desi Widyantari at Denpasar District Court on Thursday. Photo: Amilia Rosa

An n man arrested in Bali for allegedly possessing hashish said he didn’t know it was a “such a big crime” to use the drug in Indonesia.

Giuseppe “Joe” Serafino, 48, and former Reuters correspondent David Fox were arrested in Sanur last October for allegedly possessing 7.32 grams and 9.83 grams of hashish respectively.

Mr Serafino, who had been living in Bali for the last five years, said he felt pain, was agitated and couldn’t sleep if he didn’t use hashish, which he mixed with tobacco and smoked like a cigarette.

“I understand now that it is illegal,” Mr Serafino told the Denpasar District Court. “But in it was ok. I didn’t seek a recommendation from a doctor because I don’t speak Indonesian and didn’t know the system. I promise not to use it again.”

He said he bought the hashish for three million rupiah ($AUD300) from a man at McDonalds at Sanur. “He was wearing a helmet, so I didn’t see his face.”

Mr Serafino faces a charge of possessing category one narcotics, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 years’ jail, or the lesser charge of possessing narcotics for personal use, which carries a maximum sentence of four years’ jail.

He testified that he bought hashish every three to six weeks.

He told the court he only used it himself and never gave it to anyone else. “I bought quite a lot for stock. Each time I bought it was enough for two to three weeks use. I used depending on the pain I suffered. If I used I felt relaxed, I could sleep.”

Kerobokan prison doctor Agung Hartawan said in a medical statement that Mr Serafino first started using hashish in 2007 when he was diagnosed with mouth cancer.

“He was searching for ways to lessen the pain, increase his appetite and improve his sleep from the internet,” Dr Agung said.

“Because the medication he took caused him stress, he was not able to sleep, was in a bad mood and lost his appetite.”

Dr Agung said Mr Serafino sourced “ganja” (marijuana) and hashish from his friends.

“His doctor (in ) was aware of the ganja use, his doctor said to use a small amount as necessary.”

He said Mr Serafino also had back surgery in 2009 which caused him further pain.

Mr Serafino continued to use marijuana after he moved to Bali in 2011.

A friend recommended by seek rehabilitation with Indonesia’s National Narcotics Agency BNN.

“But because he was busy, before he was able to consult BNN in Bali he was arrested by police,” Dr Agung said.

Police arrested Mr Serafino in his Sanur home on October 8 last year. The asked him if he had shabu shabu, the Indonesian slang term for methamphetamine, but he told them he only had hashish.

He said Mr Serafino had continued to use marijuana when he was first incarcerated in Kerobokan jail but after counselling had stopped and now used the medication Tramadol for his back pain.

“His girlfriend, friends and lawyer often visit him in prison,” Dr Agung said.

He recommended Mr Serafino have psychotherapy and rehabilitation.

“It would be best if he received comprehensive treatment – something we don’t have in prison,” Dr Agung told the court. “It would be best if he could get treatment elsewhere, like in a rehab centre.”

The court was adjourned until next week, when prosecutors will make a sentencing request.

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