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MENAFN - Arab News - 22/01/2014

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(MENAFN -Arab News) JAKARTA: A French drug smuggler was relishing his new-found freedom Tuesday following his release on parole after 14 years in an Indonesian jail.

Michael Blanc had just one complaint after his first night out of jail: His bed was too comfortable.

Blanc was arrested in 1999 at the airport on the resort island of Bali with 3.8 kg (8.4 pounds) of hash hidden in diving canisters.

The 40-year-old former chef, who has always maintained his innocence, was released Monday on parole from prison in the capital Jakarta.

It was a rare early release for a foreigner from an Indonesian jail and has raised hopes that high-profile Australian inmate Schapelle Corby could be freed in the near future.

Speaking at his mother’s house in Jakarta, where he must live until the end of his sentence in 2017, Blanc said being freed was a “a big surprise, a super surprise.”

But he said it would take him time to adapt.

“I had a bit of trouble sleeping. The bed is too comfortable,” he told reporters, pointing to a king-size bed where he is sleeping at his mother’s house, which is modest with neither hot water nor air conditioning.

Blanc and his mother Helene Le Touzey, who abandoned her life in France and moved to Indonesia to fight for her son’s freedom.

Blanc said that after a month of relaxation he hoped to return to work but added he was unsure what he would do.

“I am a chef but I have really forgotten everything. I don’t know what I am going to do,” he said.

He was originally given a life sentence under Indonesia’s tough anti-drugs laws, a ruling which provoked outrage in his native France.

His sentence was cut to 20 years and he received several remissions before finally being granted parole following a lengthy battle with Indonesia’s complex legal system.


 






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