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Indonesia puts Frenchman in solitary after new escape try

October 4, 2019
FILE - In this Monday, May 20, 2019 file photo, officers escort French national Felix Dorfin, center, upon arrival for his sentencing hearing at a district court in Mataram, Lombok Island, Indonesia. Authorities put the Frenchman in a solitary confinement after trying to escape from jail in Indonesia's tourist island of Lombok for a second time, prison official said Friday, Oct. 4. (AP Photo)
FILE - In this Monday, May 20, 2019 file photo, officers escort French national Felix Dorfin, center, upon arrival for his sentencing hearing at a district court in Mataram, Lombok Island, Indonesia. Authorities put the Frenchman in a solitary confinement after trying to escape from jail in Indonesia's tourist island of Lombok for a second time, prison official said Friday, Oct. 4. (AP Photo)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian authorities have placed a convicted French drug smuggler in solitary confinement after he tried to escape for a second time from a jail on the tourist island of Lombok, a prison official said Friday.

The chief warden of Mataram prison, Tri Saptono Sambudji, said guards caught Felix Dorfin as he tried to make a hole in the wall of his cell late Sunday.

Sambudji said Dorfin told authorities that he had been working on the hole for the past month, using a piece of iron wrapped with a cloth to reduce the noise.

Dorfin was sentenced to death in May for smuggling 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of drugs to the island. A higher court later commuted his sentence to 19 years in prison.

Dorfin, 35, from Bethune in northern France, was arrested last September when customs officials at Lombok’s airport discovered methylenedioxy methamphetamine worth $220,600 and 22 ecstasy pills in his suitcase.

Dorfin escaped from a police detention center in January by punching holes in his cell window with help from a female police officer who received money from him.

He was recaptured after 10 days on the run. The police officer was fired and sentenced to three years in jail and a fine of 50 million rupiah ($3,500) last month.

Dorfin maintained in his trial that he had been asked by someone to carry the suitcase and did not know it contained drugs.

Sambudji said Dorfin will be held in solitary confinement until he is transferred to a maximum-security prison, and that authorities had informed French diplomats about his case.

Indonesia has extremely strict drug laws, and convicted smugglers are sometimes executed.

More than 150 people are currently on death row, mostly for drug crimes. About one-third of them are foreigners.