Local News

Man faces firing squad over Bali drugs

A US citizen is facing a possible death penalty if convicted over a trafficable quantity of drugs allegedly found in a house in Indonesia over the weekend. The 46-year-old man identified only by his initials CS and a 24-year-old Indonesian man identified as MR were arrested and charged after police raided a house in Gili Trawangan, a party island 100km west of Bali known as a hub for ecstasy and where hallucinogenic “magic mushroom” shakes are sold openly at restaurants and bars. Police claim to have discovered 1224 grams of marijuana in various bags and boxes in the house. They also said they found an unspecified quantity of methamphetamine separated into 13 small Ziplock bags, an unspecified quantity of magic mushrooms, as well as smoking implements and cash, allegedly obtained from selling drugs to tourists on the island.

The raid coincided with a stern warning issued by a senior police official to foreigners selling drugs in Indonesia at an event where drug suspects were paraded and shamed at a park in Bali’s capital Denpasar on Sunday. “Drugs are very dangerous for our young generation,” local news website Kumparan quoted Denpasar Police Chief Ruddi Setiawan as saying while 20 alleged drug suspects, all of them Indonesian, were forced to stand behind a table covered in ecstasy tablets, methamphetamine, marijuana and Happy 5 – the Asian name for the hypnotic drug nimetazepam. “I am waiting for the perpetrators, especially the immigrants, who dare to sell drugs in Bali. I will take decisive action.” It was the second public shaming of drug suspects in Bali this year. On February 24, a group of 23 suspects wearing orange prison garbs and handcuffs with their feet shackled in chains were presented to journalists by heavily armed riot police at the same park in Denpasar. The event took place in front of a statue of a bear-chested Indonesian warrior commissioned by Balinese police as a symbol for their war against drugs.

The public spectacles have been criticised by drug counsellors as unnecessary, counter-productive and illegal given none of the suspects had yet been convicted of any crimes. “How could they do that? That’s not the way to deter them,” chairman of the Balinese chapter of the Association of Indonesian Addiction Counsellors Erijadi Sulaeman told the Jakarta Post. “Don’t forget they have rights. The police should remember that before someone is convicted, they should uphold the   presumption of innocence.” Police Chief Ruddi Setiawan remained undeterred. “We want to give them some social punishment, apart from the criminal punishment,” he said at the time.

The death penalty is routinely handed to drug criminals in Indonesia, where more than 200 prisoners are currently awaiting execution. If successfully convicted, CS will become the second American on death row in Indonesia. In 2010, US citizen Frank Amado was given the death penalty after he was caught with five and a half grams of methamphetamine in the nation’s capital Jakarta. In 2017, Amado and six other foreign nationals were transferred to a super-high-security prison on Nusa Kambangan Island, the so-called execution island of Indonesia, where convicted Australian heroin smugglers Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad in 2015. [The Coffs Coast Advocate April 2, 2019]


Russian man caught with orangutan in luggage leaving Bali also had geckos, chameleons – police

Indonesian police said they also found geckos and chameleons in the luggage of a Russian tourist who was arrested for allegedly trying to smuggle a drugged orangutan out of Bali. Andrei Zhestkov was detained Saturday at Bali’s international airport after security officers found a 2-year-old endangered male orangutan sleeping in a rattan basket in his luggage. Police showed the suspect along with the lizards and other evidence at a news conference today. Zhestkov, wearing an orange detainee uniform, refused to comment.

Local police chief Ruddi Setiawan said Zhestkov had confessed that he bought the orangutan for $3,000 from a street market on Indonesia’s main island of Java. He said Zhestkov said he fed it allergy pills mixed with milk so it would lose consciousness for up to 10 hours on his planned flight back home to Vladivostok. “We are still investigating his motive in attempting to smuggle the orangutan out of Indonesia,” Setiawan said. “We are also searching for the trader who sold the animals to the suspect.” He said authorities found two geckos and four chameleons in his bags. He said Zhestkov, if found guilty, faces up to five years in jail and $7,000 in fines for attempting to smuggle wildlife.

Orangutans are listed as critically endangered by the  International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Only around 13,400 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild. A 2018 comprehensive study of Borneo’s orangutans estimated their numbers have plummeted by more than 100,000 since 1999, as the palm oil and paper industries shrink their  habitat and fatal conflicts with people increase. [1 News Now March 26, 2019]


Bali police shoot dead Russian after violent robbery

Bali police have shot dead a Russian man after a violent robbery at a money exchange office, officials said Friday, with two more accomplices arrested and several others on the run. The killing happened Tuesday on the Indonesian holiday island after police responded to calls about a robbery and confronted the armed trio, officials said.

Three men, including the man who was later killed, broke into a currency exchange office and beat several employees inside, knocking them unconscious. When they woke up, they were tied with their mouths taped, police said, adding that the employees eventually freed themselves and called the authorities. The police managed to locate the suspects who had fled, but when they wanted to arrest the men one of the suspects wanted to attack the officers. “Our unarmed officer tried to fight back, but because the situation was very dangerous to our members, another officer who was armed took strict measures against the suspect… he then died,” Denpasar police chief Ruddi Setiawan told reporters.

The Russian embassy confirmed one of its citizens was shot dead in Bali. “During a fight with police who were trying to arrest them, one Russian citizen was shot dead,” it said on its Facebook account. “Two others – one Ukrainian and one Russian – were detained.” The arrested Russian was also wounded, the embassy said, adding that four others linked to the crime are still on the run, but “their nationality is unclear”. The embassy said the gang was suspected of robbing another money changer in December and, separately, stealing weapons. It did not elaborate. Nearly $70,000 or Rp. 900.000.000 in Indonesian rupiah and US currency were reportedly stolen, according to police, who named the dead man as 45-year-old Alexei Korotkikh.

Foreigners are often arrested for drugs offences in Bali, which attracts millions of visitors to its palm-fringed beaches every year. But arrests for violent crime are more rare. In January, Bali police apprehended four Bulgarians accused of skimming bank card data at several ATM machines in the capital Denpasar. [France 24 March 22, 2019]


American man caught at Bali airport with 31 active bullets inside his suitcase

Just a week after Mexican national Jose Fabian Ibarra Valdez was caught at Bali’s Ngurah Rai international airport carrying ten live bullets in his luggage, airport officials have arrested an American passenger bound for Incheon, South Korea, after they seized 31 live bullets from his suitcase.

The man, who has identified only by his initials, DT, was taken aside when security noticed something unusual inside his luggage during the X-ray scan. The airport’s general manager, Haruman Sulaksono, confirmed that the search that followed revealed a number of dangerous items within the passenger’s luggage. Last Sunday night our Avsec [Aviation Security] personnel again found a prospective passenger carrying dangerous goods in the form of 31 bullets and 2 magazines in the suitcase,’ he said as quoted in Tribun Bali. When questioned, the man admitted that he was aware of the bullets and magazines in his suitcase, but failed to report the items to airport security officers, a legal requirement if carrying items listed as ‘dangerous goods’.

Though the man was able to present a weapon ownership permit, the number of bullets he was carrying far exceeded the maximum limit allowed on a flight, which is 12. According to a report by Kumparan, the traveler had managed to bring the bullets from the US without any problem. The man has been handed over to the airport police station for further investigation. [Coconuts Bali April 2, 2019]


Police arrest American for stabbing an Australian in front of Santa Fe Bar & Grill

Police arrested an American resident, JBL, 52, after allegedly stabbing an Australian man, SWM, 39, in front of Santa Fe Bar & Grill on Jalan Dyana Pura, Seminyak on Friday afternoon. The Australian was rushed to Sanglah Hospital for treatment after being stabbed with a knife in the left side of his stomach. The victim is still being treated and isn’t allowed to leave the hospital.

A witness said that the incident began when the Australian man began causing trouble while apparently drunk outside Santa Fe Bar & Grill at around 3.30pm. He screamed at and taunted several people. There were many   foreign tourists passing through the area at that time, and according to an article in beritabali.com, were frightened with the victim’s behavior. The suspect was one of the tourists passing by the area while SWM was taunting passersby and people in the bar. According to police, the drunk man taunted the suspect, who at first let it go, as he had an injured hand and he saw that the victim was drunk. But the suspect couldn’t control his anger after the victim hit him in the face.

“He was furious,” the witness said. Then the suspect attacked the victim and stabbed him with his pocket knife and the drunk man fell down covered in blood. Police quickly arrived at the scene, led by First Inspector Budi Artama. They brought the Australian man to Sanglah Hospital and arrested the American man at the scene. The Head of Kuta Polsek Criminal Investigation Unit, First Inspector Putu Ika Prabawa, confirmed the incident to the journalists on Sunday. Police said that more information about the incident will be released soon. [Seminyaktimes.com April 1, 2019]


Indonesia government issues new air fare guidelines to remedy high cost of flying domestically

The Minister of Transportation has established the minimum and maximum scheduled economy air fares that Indonesian airlines can charge. The rules stipulate that the lowest economy fare an airline can charge is 35% of its highest permissible fare under the tariff rules. Quoted by the State News Agency Antara, the Secretary of the Director General of Civil Aviation, Nur Isnin told a press conference on Friday, March 29, 2019: “We have released two regulations. One regarding the Ministerial Decree Number 20 and the other Ministerial Decree Number 72 regarding legal air fares.”

Isnin confirmed that the minimum fare that can be charged by an airline is 35% of the full fare economy tariff. If, for instance, the current highest economy fare is Rp. 1 million then then cheapest fare on that route would become Rp. 350,000. The Ministerial Decrees have been published following weeks of public complaints from the public and tourism operators that recent increases in airfares were disrupting the economy. The new regulations also require airlines to maintain transparency by publishing their fare structures that must comply with the new rules. All Indonesian  airlines are being asked to comply with the new tariff rules immediately. [Balidiscovery.com April 2, 2019]