Australian model on trial in Bali on drug charges

DENPASAR, Indonesia (Reuters) – Wearing a white Muslim headscarf, an Australian former lingerie model went on trial on Thursday after being caught with two ecstasy pills on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Michelle Leslie is facing charges of ecstasy possession carrying a maximum sentence of 15 years and a minimum of four. However, she also faces an alternate charge for receiving drugs as a user, which carries a maximum three-month term.

The 24-year old Leslie, identified in court documents as a Muslim, walked into the court with the headscarf but once the hearing got underway she removed it to reveal her pony-tailed black hair.

Local reports have said Leslie converted to Islam after she was arrested, and court documents identified her as Muslim.

“Michelle Leslie was caught early on Saturday August 20, 2005 … when police searched her Gucci gray black handbag, they found two pink ecstasy pills wrapped in tissue,” prosecutor Risman Tarihoran told the Denpasar District Court.

Dressed in a white shirt and black pants, Leslie looked composed and serious throughout the 30 minute trial session, after which the case was adjourned until Nov 1.

Leslie, who modeled under the name Michelle Lee, has told the police the pills were not hers and were put in her bag by someone else.

The Adelaide-born model is the latest in a string of Australians detained on drug-related charges on Bali, where local police have stepped up efforts to combat the use of narcotics.

Another Australian woman, Schapelle Corby, was sentenced to 20 years in prison in May for smuggling 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali from her home country, straining relations between Canberra and Jakarta.

Australian officials have repeatedly warned their citizens not to bring illegal drugs into Asian countries, most of which impose harsh penalties.

Leslie started full-time modeling at 15 and has been in a number of high profile advertising campaigns, including for lingerie.

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Reuters, via the Boston Globe, UK
Oct. 28, 2005

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)