Malaysia detains Australian over drugs

KUALA LUMPUR - An Australian truck driver faces a possible death sentence after he was arrested in Malaysia on suspicion of drug trafficking, Malaysia's top narcotics official said Monday.

The 32-year-old from Perth in Western Australia was arrested March 1 in the capital Kuala Lumpur in possession of 225 grams (7.9 ounces) of methamphetamine, national police narcotics director Noor Rashid Ibrahim told AFP.

Malaysian officials have identified the man as Dominic Jude Christopher Bird. Australian diplomats said they were seeking access to the suspect in order to offer consular assistance.

Noor Rashid said the Australian was arrested along with another accomplice and that three more people were subsequently detained. He declined to provide the nationalities of the other detainees.

"We believe that the Australian national is involved in some sort of syndicate but investigations are ongoing so we cannot be more specific at the moment," he added.

Noor Rashid said that while the Australian suspect had not yet been charged, "he is currently being investigated under the Dangerous Drugs Act and upon conviction could face the death penalty."

Drug trafficking carries a mandatory death penalty by hanging under Malaysia's tough anti-drug laws. Anyone found in Malaysia to be in possession of at least 50 grams of methamphetamines is considered a trafficker.