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British ex-war correspondent 'grateful' for 'lenient' jail term in drug case

A British former war correspondent has been sentenced to seven months in prison for possessing hashish by a court in Indonesia.

The sentence announced at Denpasar District Court in Bali was less than the one-year prison term sought by prosecutors.

David Fox was arrested on October 8 along with Australian Giuseppe Serafino on the tourist island, where police confiscated a total of 10.09g (0.36oz) of hashish from Fox's clothing and house.

With time already served, Fox is due for release in May.

Through his lawyer, Fox thanked supporters and said he accepted the court's judgment.

"I am very grateful for this lenient sentence," he said.

Fox, 55, worked for Reuters for 20 years but was fired in 2011 for making an off-colour remark on an instant-messaging system while covering the 2011 Japan tsunami and nuclear reactor meltdowns.

In his indictment, presiding Judge Erwin Djong noted Fox's testimony that he used hashish to cope with the trauma suffered from covering conflicts but said there was no justification for drug use, which was a negative influence on Indonesia's youth.

Bali police first raided Serafino's house in the beachside town and resort area of Sanur, where they seized 7.32g (0.26oz) of hashish.

His arrest led to the detention of Fox at a bar run by Serafino.

Prosecutors have also sought a one-year prison term for Serafino, 49, who is being tried separately. His sentencing is expected on Tuesday.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws and convicted traffickers are often executed.

More than 150 people are on death row, mostly for drug crimes.

About a third of them are foreigners.

Eighteen people convicted of drug-related offences, mostly foreigners, have been executed since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo took office in October 2014.

AP

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