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China , Methamphetamine (crystal meth) , Drugs trade , Asia Pacific, New Zealand

Australian on trial in China says he thought drug was muscle builder

A 25-year-old dual Australian and New Zealand citizen standing trial in Guangzhou on charges of trying to smuggle methamphetamine testified on Thursday that he came to China to buy a muscle-building supplement and did not check the package he purchased before trying to depart.

Peter Gardner was detained in the southern city of Guangzhou on 8 November. Police said he was trying to smuggle more than 30kg of methamphetamine out of China. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

The trial in Guangzhou intermediate people’s court was broadcast live on a court website, but Gardner’s testimony in English was barely audible. A court interpreter gave an audible translation in Chinese.

Gardner seemed to argue that he did not knowingly smuggle drugs, though he also acknowledged wrongdoing and offered to remedy the situation by helping police identify what he referred to as Chinese suspects.

He said he had come to China to buy several kilograms of a muscle-building supplement, “but I didn’t check the parcel after I got the delivery”, the translator quoted him as saying.

“The crime I committed affected my family and I would do anything that would help me in this situation, so I’d like to help the police to identify other suspects,” the translator also quoted him as saying. “And I’d like to point out the other Chinese suspects as soon as possible if police hand me photos for me to identify.”

Gardner arrived at the court venue on Thursday morning in a police truck. Relatives and consular officials also attended the proceedings.

He was detained in Guangzhou in November along with a 22-year-old Australian woman who was later released.