More travellers taking a trip they'd rather forget

Behind bars: Number of Australians imprisoned overseas.
Behind bars: Number of Australians imprisoned overseas. 

Four Australian travellers a day are arrested for crimes around the world and statistics show a jump of almost 50 per cent from previous years.

Figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade revealed that 1507 Australians were arrested or jailed for various crimes in the 2011-2012 financial year, up from 1067 in 2010-2011.

The number of Australians in custody was at record levels with 572 being jailed as at December 31.

The country where most Australians got into trouble was the US with 90 Australians in custody. Other countries included China, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.

The categories of crime attracting the highest number of arrests were drugs, assault, visa and fraud.

In the past year, more than 8 million Australians travelled overseas, a rise of 11 per cent on the previous year, and 202,723 of them required consular help.

A DFAT spokeswoman said it could provide help to Australian citizens and permanent residents who were jailed or arrested overseas by visiting people in detention, providing a list of English-speaking lawyers, assisting in getting information about visitor procedures and assisting in getting access to money or telephones.

But she said it could not provide legal advice, intervene in private court proceedings or legal matters or investigate crimes or deaths.

Last week Australian businessman Matt Joyce was sentenced to 10 years' jail in Dubai and fined $25 million after being found guilty of property fraud charges.

Matthew Ng is serving a 14½-year jail term in China. He was found guilty of embezzlement, corruption, bribery and falsifying records.

His jailing followed that of former Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu who is serving 10 years after he pleaded guilty to corruption and paying off Chinese officials.

Cardiac surgeon Du Zuying, 60, is serving four years in a Chinese jail after being found guilty of embezzlement last year.

Dr Du was in a messy battle for control of the $700 million Nasdaq-listed company China Biologic Products he founded to supply blood plasma products to Chinese hospitals when he was charged.

In Bulgaria, 26-year-old Sydney man Jock Palfreeman is serving 20 years for murder, a crime he said he did not commit.

Martin Garnett is Australia's longest-serving prisoner in an overseas jail. He was arrested in Thailand on drug offences in 1993, then extradited to the US where he has been imprisoned ever since.

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