June 7, 2017

Australian Drug Convict Schapelle Corby Returns Home from Bali

Convicted drug smuggler Schapelle Corby arrived in Australia on Sunday after completing a twelve-and-a-half-year sentence for smuggling marijuana to Indonesia, a case which received huge media attention and soured ties between the two countries. Corby landed at Brisbane International Airport with her sister Mercedes Corby and a bodyguard just after 5 a.m., Australian media reported. She did not leave the airport through the usual exit, evading a large media contingent waiting for her, before being whisked away in a black van with tinted windows. Family spokeswoman Eleanor Whitney thanked Corby’s supporters and asked for privacy. “It is with gratefulness and relief we mark Schapelle Corby’s return to Australia,” she said, reading from a statement.

Corby has always maintained her innocence, saying she was unaware she was carrying more than 4 kg (8.8 lb) of marijuana in a boogie board bag when she arrived in Bali in late 2004. Her story captivated Australia, hogging headlines and prime time television for months, and initially putting strain on diplomatic ties between Australia and Indonesia. Corby’s case and that of the so-called Bali Nine, who were arrested in 2005 on charges of smuggling heroin from Indonesia into Australia had enormous resonance as a domestic political issue in Australia.

Bali Nine ringleaders Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed in 2015 and, under Indonesia’s strict drug laws, Corby could have faced the death penalty for trafficking. Indonesia’s justice system was vilified in parts of the Australian media, while the Indonesian embassy and officials were sent death threats, including bullets and a white powder in an envelope in 2005.

Former Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono granted Corby’s clemency plea in 2012, reducing her sentence by five years because of good behaviour. Under her parole conditions, Corby had to keep in close contact with correctional officers while living at the Bali home of her sister Mercedes, trying to stay out of the public eye as the media tracked her every move. She joined Instagram on Saturday, quickly gaining nearly 95,000 followers, and posted photos and video of her final parole meeting and chaotic scenes as she was escorted from her villa in Kuta to Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport. [Reuters May 28, 2017]


15-year-old Boy Suffers Self-Inflicted Stab Wound While Dancing in a Trance Dance

 Putu Pande Kusuma Jana, a 15-year-old boy from the village of Sumberkelampok in Buleleng, North Bali is a patient at the General Hospital in Negara recovering from a self-inflicted stab wound to the chest. Metrobali.com reports that the junior high school student stabbed himself while performing a traditional dance near Gilimanuk, West Bali. A number of dances in the traditional Balinese dance repertoire have segments in which male dancers in a state of trance remain impervious to injury   despite pushing traditional swords into their thoraxes with great force.

Made Arjana (33), Pande’s father, explained that his son was injured while performing the Ngiringan Sesuunan Dewa Ayu trance dance on Friday, May 26, 2017, at 9:00 pm. The dance was part of a cleansing ceremony (Upacara Pecaruan) of a neighbor’s house. After suffering the wound, Pande was rushed to a local public health center in Gilimanuk where he was referred to the General Hospital in Negara for further treatment. [www.balidiscovery.com May 28, 2017]


Prosecutor Rules Out Appealing Sara Connor’s Sentence to Supreme Court

Sara Connor can finally rest easy that her five-year sentence for the fatal group assault of a Bali police officer will not be increased again after the prosecution ruled out one last appeal. A scared-looking Connor had already told Denpasar District Court clerk Nengah Sanjaya last week: “I don’t want to appeal, I don’t want to appeal,” after the High Court increased her sentence from four to five years.

Now the prosecution has also decided against a final appeal to Indonesia’s highest court – the Supreme Court. The conclusion of the court proceedings will mean that Connor can start to accrue remissions to her sentence on Independence Day and religious holidays. The new found certainty may also mean her two young sons, whom Connor has not seen since an ill-fated holiday to Bali last August, could visit her. [Sydney Morning Herald May 29, 2017]


Manitoba Woman Breaks Her Back in Bicycle Crash in Indonesia

A Manitoba woman is in a hospital on the Indonesian island of Bali with serious injuries after what is being described as a freak bicycle accident in a remote area this past weekend. Tiffany Green was in the country taking a yoga training course and had stayed a few extra days for short vacation. She was out on a bike ride Saturday afternoon when she crashed in a remote area, good friend Christopher Schneider said. “Apparently she was riding her bicycle and it accelerated very quickly around a corner and she was unable to stop,” Schneider said. “She fell off and she broke her back. Two of her vertebrae … also her scapula as well.”

“Luckily there were some people that came across her on the side of the road that wanted to help her and got her to a hospital,” he said. Schneider, who has spoken with Green said she has been at the hospital since then, and is in a lot of pain. “I was feeling, of course, very helpless,” he said. “I care about her very much.”

Green was in the country alone at the time of the accident, he said, but friends she made made while she was there are by her side. Her twin sister, Tara, is preparing to head to Bali to be with her, a family member said. Green was set to return home from Bali in just a few days. [CBC News May 23, 2017]


Police Arrest Four Snatch and Run Thieves in Kuta, Shooting One Suspect

A group of snatch and run thieves operating on Jalan Kayu Aya Gang Wirasaba area in Seminyak and targeting tourists have been arrested by police in Kuta, Bali on Saturday, May 20, 2105. Beritabali.com reports that police have taken into custody a gang of four thieves, with one of the four shot in the leg at the time of his arrest when he allegedly fought the arresting officers.

The four men now in police custody are: Mohamad Abidin alias Bereng (29) from Malang who stays on Jalan Bekisar Pemogan, South Denpasar; I Made Sucita alias Gonjak (26) from Banjar Asah in the Village of Datah, Abang, Karangasem staying on Jalan Kargo Sari No. 8, West Denpasar; I Made Sudarma (40) also from the Village of Datah staying on Jalan Tukad Ciliwung II No. 14, Panjer, Denpasar; and I Nyoman Putu Suardana (39) also form the village of Datah staying at Jalan Kargo Sari No. 8, West Denpasar.

The arrest of the four occurred after their latest victim, Erica Rini Pujiastuti (30), living in the Kerobokan area of Bali was attacked by the group at 2:30 am on Saturday, May 20, 2017, near Jalan Kayu Aya in Seminyak. The woman told police how two men, one of whom drew a knife and stabbed her, approached her. Based on information provided by the victim, police started a search for the two men. With the assistance of a taxi driver who saw the robbery, police managed to arrest Mohamad Abidin who provided information that led to the arrest of the remaining three men in various locations. The suspect, named Gonjak, was arrested at his home on Jalan Kargo Sari No. 8 in West Denpasar. Police shot the man in the leg when he allegedly resisted arrest.

Police say all four men admitted to at least five robberies on Jalan Kayu Aya in Seminyak. Gonjak, seen by police as the ringleader, also admitted to robberies in other locations assisted by friends driving motorcycles. At the time of their arrest, police confiscated evidence in the form of a wallet, an iPhone, several ATM cards, the registration certificate for a Honda Beat motorcycle and Rp. 86,000 in cash. [www.balidiscovery.com May 28, 2017]


Peruvian Fugitive Arrested in Sumatra a Week After Escape

A Peruvian fugitive has been arrested in Pekanbaru, Sumatra, a little more than a week after he escaped from custody in Bali by fleeing through a bathroom window in Denpasar court. Jose William Salazar Ortiz was reportedly secured in Pekanbaru by Denpasar Police teams on Wednesday.

Ortiz had been en route to Malaysia when police apprehended him in Riau’s capital city. The Peruvian national had been using a fake Chilean passport with a name similar to his own, according to police. “He was using a Chilean identity, so not a Peruvian one. He was going on a road trip to Malaysia,” Denpasar Police Chief Hadi Purnomo said on Wednesday, as quoted by Tribun Bali. After arriving in Malaysia, Ortiz planned to return to Peru, police said.

Ortiz is one of three Peruvian defendants charged with participating in a network of ATM fraud. The three were previously arrested in Jakarta in January 2017, then taken to Denpasar for further legal processing since their alleged crimes mostly took place in Bali. Prosecutors recommended Ortiz get seven years jail time over the ATM fraud case. [Coconuts Bali May 24, 2017]


Highway Expert Warns Underpass Planned at Bali Airport Entrance is a Bad Idea

While central government and provincial officials in Bali are in a rush to commence the construction of a new underpass at the entrance to Bali’s airport before a major meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank set for October 2018, land acquisition and a number of controversial issues may still delay the project.

Beritabali.com reports that Susalit Alius, an expert on highway planning and construction, is warning that the proposal to build the underpass is not viable, full of unforseen risk and requires more thorough examination. “In my opinion, I think it is very risky because of a large number of high power lines and pipelines carrying aviation fuel in the area. The building of the underpass should not be permitted and I am sure a feasibility study has not been done. I suggest that a bypass or a flyover be constructed (instead),” said Susalit.

Susalit said the alternative option of a flyover or bypass at the airport’s entrance would prove safer and substantially less expensive to build than the planned underpass. “All that remains to be done,” said Susalit, “is to determine if local customs and traditions might be violated by building a flyover. This requires a sit-down meeting with community, religious and traditional leaders. In any event, Bali needs to modernize its road construction while at the same time preserving Balinese custom and traditions,”

Susalit is the former head of road construction and highway planning for Bali, Nusa Tenggara Barat, and Nusa Tenggara Timor. During his tenure in office, he supervised the construction of the Jalan Bypass Ida Bagus Mantra and the Bali’s first underpass at the Dewa Ruci Monument in Kuta.

The Central Government in Jakarta has allocated Rp. 209.7 billion rupiah to pay for the new underpass at the entrance to Bali’s only international airport. Under the development program, the Province of Bali must acquire and contribute the land needed for the road project that will result in an underpass that is 712-meters long and 17-meters wide. Provincial officials recently announced that an unspecified amount of the officially protected mangrove forest                that borders the area will be sacrificed to build the new roadway. [www.balidiscovery.com May 26, 2017]


Lion Air Pilot Flying Bali – Jakarta Invites Wife and Child to Fly in Cockpit

Kompas.com reports that a Lion Air Passenger, Citra Rienanti, posted to her Facebook page her experience while flying on Lion Air JT 015 from Bali to Jakarta on Tuesday, May 23, 2017, relating how she saw a woman and her small child enter the cockpit of the aircraft. Rienanti related how she saw a stewardess give a sign to the woman and child estimated to be 3 years old sitting in seats 1F and 1E that they could leave their seats and enter the cockpit.

The news spread quickly on social media causing Lion Air management to say they would investigate the case and take appropriate action. Citra wrote how, while traveling with her husband, she became increasingly suspicious when the woman and child did not return to their seats. Concerned that unauthorized passengers were in the cockpit in clear violation of international safety standards, the Facebook user even checked the toilets to confirm the “missing” passengers were not inside.

Citra then questioned one of the stewardesses working on the flight, who after trying initially to evade giving any answer, eventually revealed that the woman accompanied by her child entered the cockpit to meet her husband who was the pilot of the aircraft. Citra then asked if it was permissible for any passenger to enter the cockpit area, pointing to a sign that stated no passengers are allowed in the cockpit after take-off.

Tempo.co and other media identified the Captain of the flight as Christophus Dimas Rio Atria. Subsequently, the pilot’s wife reportedly had a boisterous verbal altercation with Citra, telling her essentially “to mind her own business.” On her Facebook page, Citra posted photos of the empty seats and a video of the pilot’s wife and child.

Lion Air has sent a message to Citra Rienanti apologizing for the incident, thanking her for her report and assuring the matter would be thoroughly investigated. Lion Air also affirmed that no passengers are ever allowed in the cockpit during a flight and if it was determined the pilot was at fault, he would face stern sanctions from the Airline.

A subsequent report on Detik.com reported that the unnamed captain has been grounded pending a full investigation by air safety officials. [www.balidiscovery.com May 28, 2017]