Julia Gillard speaks to boy arrested in Bali

Julia Gillard has spoken to the 14-year-old boy arrested in Bali last week for allegedly carrying marijuana, telling him she was doing everything possible to help him.

The teenager, detained last Tuesday on the resort island, has been the focus of intense negotiations involving Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and other Australian officials who hope he will be released and sent home.

A spokesman for Gillard said the prime minister was following the case with concern and was briefed daily by Australia’s ambassador to Indonesia, Greg Moriarty, who has flown to Bali from Jakarta to handle the case.

“During a phone call with the ambassador yesterday while he was at Denpasar police station she had the opportunity to talk to the father and the son,” the spokesman said Monday.

“The prime minister reassured them the government was doing everything it could.”

Australia has asked that the Indonesian legal process take into account the young age of the boy, a high school student from a coastal region north of Sydney who was holidaying with his parents when arrested.

Children face the same courts as adults in Indonesia, although juvenile justice laws offer some concessions to minors.

The boy is alleged to have been carrying 6.9 grams of marijuana when he was arrested on October 4 as he returned to his hotel from a massage in the Kuta tourist area.

Indonesian police said he had admitted paying Rp 250,000 ($29) to a man, who reportedly told him he had not eaten for a day and needed money.

Several Australians have been arrested on drugs charges in Bali in recent years, including Schapelle Corby who was convicted of attempting to smuggle marijuana into Indonesia.


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