ABC South Asia correspondent's arrest on drug charges shocks colleagues

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Melbourne, July 19 : News of the arrest of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's (ABC) much respected South Asian correspondent Peter Lloyd has left his colleagues and the company management quite stunned and shocked.

Most of them in New Delhi and back at the company's headquarters in Australia are still unable to comprehend how a journalist so versed in Asian drug laws could be accused of breaking them.

According to news.com.au, Lloyd could face harsh punishment, including being caned 15 times and sentenced to 20 years in prison for violating Singapore's strict drug laws.

Lloyd, 41, who reports for ABC from New Delhi, was arrested on Wednesday for supplying, possessing and trafficking methamphetamine, or ice.

His arrest took place in a Singapore hospital where he was being treated for an eye infection. He was in the city on a holiday.

Singapore court documents released last night show Lloyd was charged with trafficking about 1g gram of methamphetamine to a Singaporean for 100 Singapore dollars (75 dollars) at a hotel early this month. He also faces a second charge for allegedly being in possession of methamphetamine.

"It is not looking very good and people are in genuine shock because the accusations are so out of character. That it has happened in Singapore makes it that much worse - any foreign correspondent in Asia knows better than to break the law there or in other parts of Asia," an ABC source was quoted, as saying.

Meanwhile, ABC's new breakfast program has been thrown into turmoil by Lloyd's arrest, as he was due to launch and co-host the new four hour news Breakfast TV program on ABC2 with Virginia Trioli in September.

It is understood Lloyd flew to Singapore from Indonesia this week where he visited his estranged wife Kirstyn and their two children. They now live in Jakarta where she works, and colleagues confirmed they separated six months ago after Lloyd came out as a gay man.

Singapore's Central Narcotics Bureau moved on Lloyd after a Singapore man, 31, was found with 0.6g of ice in his apartment.

Officers alleged it was supplied by Lloyd. He was then arrested, and officers alleged a further 0.8g of ice plus implements to administer the drug were found.

A spokesperson for the CNB said Lloyd had been offered bail and his case had been fixed for next mention on July 25.

Lloyd was appointed ABC correspondent in New Delhi in 2006 and reports for ABC TV and radio.

He had spent the previous four years in Bangkok. He has extensively covered the Schapelle Corby and Bali Nine drug cases. He also covered the case of Australian Nguyen Tuong Van, executed by Singapore in 2005 for heroin trafficking.

The ABC said it had sent a lawyer to represent Lloyd. Singapore lawyer Shashi Nathan, who is not representing Lloyd, said the reporter may have to provide about 38,000 dollars to 53,000 dollars to get bail.

ANI

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