July 19, 2017

Kerobokan prison escapees still on run as Indonesian officials tackle overcrowding concerns

A group of politicians in Jakarta has demanded a number of prisoners, including foreigners, be moved from Bali’s infamous Kerobokan prison to address overcrowding as police continue a hunt for two men who escaped in June. Members of a parliamentary law committee have toured the jail, declaring that prison officials must have been involved in the escape plot.

Australian man Shaun Davidson and Malaysian inmate Tee Kok King are still on the run after escaping from the prison through a 15-metre long tunnel about three weeks ago. Two other men – Bulgarian Dimitar Nikolove Ilieve and Indian Sayed Mohammed Said – were recaptured in Dili, East Timor. Committee head and Democrat party member Benny Harman told the ABC the escape tunnel had clearly been used to traffic drugs in and out of the prison. “There’s a network between members of a drug ring inside this prison and other places,” Mr. Harman said. “The hole is big and long, it could not be finished in two weeks, it would take months – it’s weird if the prison officers didn’t know about it.”

The committee members have demanded that a number of prisoners be transferred to other facilities across Indonesia, and expressed shock that there were about 1,300 male inmates in Kerobokan, a facility that was built to hold 300. But few of the more than 470 jails across Indonesia have room for additional inmates. All are unfunded and overcrowded, with estimates more than 80,000 drug convicts are incarcerated across the country. Bali’s police chief, General Petrus Golose, told reporters when Australian escapee Davidson is caught, he could be sent to Nusakambagan.

Davidson only had three months to serve of his one-year sentence for passport fraud, but is facing drug charges in Perth. Social media taunts in his name, claiming he is in locations around the world, have angered police. “We will transfer them to Nusakambangan so they can experience the discipline there together with the terrorism convicts,” Inspector General Golose said. He said a reconstruction of the escape would be held soon and a new suspect in the case would then be named. [ABC News July 7, 2017]


Police investigate death of Chinese woman on Toekad Rafting trip

Balipost.com reports that on Sunday, July 9. 2017, only one day after a Chinese female tourist, Wang Yumei, died in a rafting accident on the Ayung River near Ubud, the operator – Toekad Rafting remains open and is operating normally. Bali Post reports that despite poor weather, the flow of rafting passengers coming to Toekad Rafting remained strong, predominated by Indian and Chinese travelers. Balipost.com quotes Wayan Punayasa and Kadek Karyasa who both work as river guides at Toekad Rafting that on the day at around 1:30 pm they were bringing a group of 13 tourists in two river rafts. The first raft carried 6 passengers led by Wayan Purnayasa, while the second raft was led by Kadek Karyasa carried 7 passengers.

10 minutes into the journey at the first set of rapids, the raft led by Purnayasa, capsized sending the guide and six passengers into the rushing waters. Purnayasa managed to bring 5 of his six passengers to the safety of the riverbank. However, the Chinese woman, Wang Yumani, went missing for a period before her lifeless body was found downstream. When reporters from Bali Post attempted to ask questions in connection with the accident that cost the Chinese woman’s life, all staff refused to comment, reportedly even attempting to eject the reporters from their Kedewatan office. Staff said their supervisors has instructed them to prevent unauthorized photography. Another employee, Budi, complained that reporters were sitting in chairs at the reception intended for guest’s use.

Budi also assured the press that every guest taking a rafting trip was insured. The company’s website states that rafting participants are insured to a value of US$50,000. Police who are investigating the incident are interviewing the tourists who were on the trip, the victim’s family, and the company’s employees to determine if criminal negligence played any part in the woman’s death. Police are reported to be focusing on whether the company had standard operating procedures (SOP) and if operating during a period of heavy rain violated the SOP or accepted safety standards. A conviction of criminal negligence could result in 5 years imprisonment. [www.balidiscovery.com July 9, 2017]


Baby boy born in Batik Air 23 minutes before landing in Bali

A passenger of Batik Air gave birth aboard the plane during a flight from Jakarta to Denpasar, Bali on Saturday (8/7). Ngurah Rai International airport spokesperson Arie Ahsanurrohim said that the passenger had been evacuated to the nearest hospital from the airport.The passenger named Nurul Samiah (28) delivered a baby boy around 23 minutes before landing in Bali. She delivered the baby safely and received assistance from cabin crew and other passengers who are familiar with medical care.

The crew later informed the incident to air traffic control in Ngurah Rai airport to prepare an ambulance. After the plane landed in Bali at around 09.05 in the morning (WITA), the medic staff of Ngurah Rai airport later evacuated Nurul and her baby using an ambulance to Kasih Ibu Kedonganan Hospital in Badung Regency, Bali, to receive further medical care. [Antara July 11, 2017]


American Paul Hoffman receives 20-month prison sentence

American expatriate Paul Anthony Hoffman (57) has been declared guilty by a Denpasar Court of committing a series of armed robberies at convenience stores in Kuta and sentenced to 20 months in prison. The sentence handed down by the Court on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.

State Prosecutors has requested a 2.5-year sentence for the robberies that took place in February 2017 that resulted in Hoffman’s arrest on February 16, 2017. It is not clear if Hoffman, who is married to an Indonesian woman and has an infant child, will be allowed to stay in Indonesia or be deported and blacklisted at the end of his prison sentence. [www.balidiscovery.com July 9, 2017]


Leading Bali newspaper labels Jalan Poppies II in Kuta as unsafe after dark

Balipost.com reports that Jalan Poppies II in Kuta has become a high-crime area each night after dark. The crime situation has become so acute, says The Bali Post, that local residents have now dubbed the area after a famous war zone as “Jalur Gaza” or the “Gaza Stip.” The report alleges that almost every evening the screams of tourists who are the victims of snatch thieves or muggings are heard.

One taxi driver, Komang Uban, said he has often seen pickpocketing and muggings taking place that are targeted on foreign tourists. Many tourists who are the targets of such crimes are attacked as they return from local nightspots to their accommodation address on Jalan Poppies II. Uban described how criminal posing as motorbike jockeys offer transportation to tourists, luring them to a quieter location where they are preyed upon by a group of thieves laying in wait.

Uban said the frequency of such attacks has prompted local residents to call Jalan Poppies II the “Jalur Gaza.” The thieves will attack any unsuspecting tourist, regardless of sex or age, with even underage children falling victim to muggings. Robert Rahardja, another local resident of Jalan Poppies II in Kuta, confirmed the large amount of criminal activities taking place on Jalan Poppies II, claiming the thieves are both practiced and well-organized.

Those who try to resist the muggers are generally beaten into submission by the criminals, said Rahardja. Rahardja complained that there appear to be little efforts by the police to bring the thieves to justice nor are there any sign of routine patrols of the area being undertaken by the police. [www.balidiscovery.com July 9, 2017]


Flores military cadet murdered in Jimbaran

Denpasar Police has rounded up six suspects over the murder of a 20-year-old military cadet in Bali. “We have arrested six suspects,”  Denpasar Police Criminal Investigation Unit Commissioner Aris Purwanto confirmed to Tribun Bali on Monday. The main suspect of the six is just 16 years old and is believed to be the child of DPRD regional councilman, national media is reporting.

The suspected murder weapon, a curved knife with a black handle, was taken from suspects at the scene, police say. Prada Yanuar Setiawan from Manggarai, Flores was beaten and stabbed to death early on Sunday morning in Jimbaran on the Jl. Ngurah Rai By Pass, directly in front of Taman Griya. Setiawan had been driving with a friend around 5am on Sunday when they were allegedly ambushed then beaten by a teenage motorcycle gang.

While the cadet’s friend Johari, was reportedly injured in the face with a broken jaw, Yanuar’s wounds were fatal, with an injury to the right ear and deep stab wounds to his chest. Johari, also from Manggarai, is in  intensive care at Denpasar’s Sanglah Hospital. It is not yet known whether or not he will undergo surgery. Setiawan had been set to become commissioned into the Indonesian national military in just a week’s time, on July 17. Police say they are continuing to investigate the case. [Coconuts Bali July 10, 2017]


Muslim leader calls for a worldwide boycott of Starbucks

A prominent Muslim leader has called for a boycott of international coffee brand Starbucks because its support for gay marriage is ‘not in line’ with Islamic law.  Anwar Abbas, the leader of Muhammadiyah, a 30 million-strong group in Indonesia, said Starbucks’ pro-gay stance threatened the ‘religious and cultured’ core of the Southeast Asian nation. ‘If Starbucks only does business, then fine. But don’t bring ideology here,’ Abbas told Reuters on Saturday.

Abbas also called on the Indonesian government to revoke Starbucks’ operating license.  Asked why he took a stand against Starbucks, Abbas said he was prompted to speak out after company senior executive Howard Schultz made a pro-LGBT comment. When a Starbucks shareholder complained in 2013 that the company had lost customers because of its support for gay marriage, Schultz said Starbucks embraced diversity and ‘not every decision is an economic decision’. [Daily Mail July 2, 2017]


Bali Airport Air Security officers arrested for stealing passenger’s credit card

Two employees at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport have been arrested, accused of stealing a traveler’s credit card and putting Rp 68 million worth of charges on it. “The incident happened on June 21, 2017 at Ngurah Rai Airport,” Denpasar Police Superintendent Nyoman Artana told Detik on Thursday.

It all apparently started when the traveler got off an AirAsia flight from Jakarta and went straight to his hotel in Bali, leaving his wallet in the plane seat. Realizing he had forgotten his wallet, the passenger went back to the airport to collect his wallet-but failed to notice his card from bank BCA was missing. But not too long after, the unfortunate traveler got news that his credit card balance was up. Way up.

“The victim suffered losses of Rp 68,702,080,” says Artana. The card had allegedly been taken by two AirAsia Aviation Security officers. The officers did return the man’s wallet to lost and found, but not before pulling out the credit card and contacting a recidivist fraudster friend to get the card and use it for “shopping charges” of Rp 15 million, Rp 14.5 million, and Rp 14 million, which actually just went into the accounts of the perpetrators, according to police. The card was additionally used for some real-life    shopping transactions. First to buy Rp 500k worth of gasoline, then for three televisions, and finally, for some clothing from Levi’s and Nike. After the card hit its limit, the perpetrators allegedly threw it away.

The three men (the two AirAsia AVSEC officers and their fraudster friend) have been arrested and are facing charges under Article 363 of the Criminal Code, which carries a minimum of seven years in prison. [Coconuts Bali July 6, 2017]


Bali Police arrest two more street gang members caught coercing protection money in Dalung area of Kuta

Bali Police continue to crack down on protection rackets and extortion schemes purportedly operated in Bali under the auspices and protection or “People’s Organizations” (Ormas). The most recent action by Bali Police has saw two men arrested as police also seized a sum of money, membership cards in a leafing Ormas, and two weapons.

As reported by NusaBali, Hengky Widjaja, the spokesman for the Bali Police, explained that police had received reports of an Ormas member extorting payment from businesses in the Dalung area of South Bali.  Responding to reports from the public, police saw a man fitting the description  provided enter the Conato Bakery on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.

Police arrested a man, identified with the initials IGS, in front of the Bakery. At the time of arrest, police found Rp. 150,000 in the man’s possession that he admitted he had just coerced as a protection payment from the Bakery. Following further interrogation by the police, IGS identified and   an accomplice, identified with the initials AS. A short time later, police   arrested AS.

Preliminary investigations by the police resulted in a confession by the two men that they were collecting money from 15 small restaurants and stores in the Dalung area of South Bali, reaping between Rp. 50,0000 and Rp. 250,000 on each visit. In a month, the men would collect Rp. 1.7 million.

The men told police they had been collecting protection money in the area for the past three years. If shop owners refused to pay, the businesses were threatened and terrorized. The two gang members  told police that of the Rp. 1.7 million collected each month, Rp. 1 million would be paid to the Ormas and the remainder used to purchase alcohol. After the arrest, police raided the Ormas guard post where they found a further Rp. 350,000, invoices for local businesses and two swords. [www.balidiscovery.com       July 9, 2017]