Local News

Why was Australia's latest accused drug smuggler forced to wear a balaclava and jumpsuit?

Does it force an implication of guilt before he even entered a plea?

By Kate Wagner

Isaac Emmanuel Roberts, an Australian accountant, was arrested yesterday after Indonesian officials said they found 20 grams of drugs in his bag, but it was the balaclava and orange jumpsuit that shocked many Australians.

Roberts, who once ran as a political candidate for the Liberal Democrats, complained about being hauled through a pack of media before entering his plea.

"Parading small-time users in front of media for tiny amounts when there are kilos coming through this airport. It's ridiculous," he said.

But why was he?

Well Professor Tim Lindsey says the embarrassment and shame was precisely the point.

"It seeks to shame the offender, it seeks to show the law enforcement authorities are doing their jobs, and it's a way of attracting press interests in arrests," he told *news.com.au. "You might call it a bit of law enforcement theatre."

For Australians, it may appear as if the parade, especially while clad in prison orange, would predetermine their guilt but it's the done thing in Indonesia where drug offences are treated as a form of murder.

The balaclava is actually intended to protect the accused, allowing them a level of anonymity and to shield their face from the cameras they're dragged through as a part of the process.

It's understood Roberts has admitted the 19.97 grams of ice and ecstasy pills were his and is claiming he's an addict rather than a drug smuggler.

He will face charges punishable by death or at minimum five years' jail.