SYDNEY: Australia said Friday it is doing all it can to bring home a 14-year-old boy arrested in Bali for allegedly possessing marijuana, but that it recognised the case was subject to Indonesian law.
The boy, who was allegedly carrying a small amount of the drug when he was picked up on the resort island on Tuesday, could face a lengthy jail term if convicted.
"As a government, we have our best people working on this case of this 14-year-old boy," Prime Minister Julia Gillard told reporters.
"Our aim here is to provide every support we can to him and his family, and our aim is to get him back in Australia."
Gillard said the matter was a sensitive one governed by Indonesian law and that she would not make any judgments on the case, but added she had been shocked by the incident and her heart went out to the boy's family.
"The only thing that will ever drive me or anybody else in government is what is in the best interests of this boy, but from a simple human perspective I'm sure we would all wish that this boy is released and returned to Australia as soon as possible," she said.
Gillard said the boy was at a police station in Denpasar and was being kept separate from other detainees and with access to his parents.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said consular officials were in close contact with Indonesian authorities and he had told Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs to make the matter its top priority.
"My heart goes out to the parents," Rudd said.
"I'm sure many Australians would feel exactly the same and we will do all within our power to support them and to get this young fella back home."
Police said Friday they were still questioning the teenager.
"The boy's parents and a lawyer have come to see him. Australian officials have also arrived," police spokesman Hariadi told AFP.
The lawyer Muhammad Rifan reportedly said the child was "in a state of shock and is depressed".
"He doesn't know Kuta, people in Kuta. He didn't know there were people selling drugs in Kuta. He could have been set up but we are seeking evidence," he said, according to the Jakarta Globe.
Indonesian police sources have told AFP the teenager was arrested with 6.9 grams of marijuana as he returned to his hotel from a massage in the Kuta tourist area.
Australian media reported that the boy told police the dealer said he had not eaten for a day and needed money. He paid 250,000 rupiah ($28) for the drugs, the reports said.
Children face the same courts as adults in Indonesia and are often imprisoned with adults although there is a separate children's cell in Bali's Kerobokan jail.
Several Australians have been arrested for drug possession on the island in recent years, while two traffickers are on death row and six serving life sentences in Kerobokan.