A young Australian surfer imprisoned in a Sharia-ruled Indonesian province has explained what really happened the night he was charged with a “drunken naked rampage.”
Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones faced up to five years in prison after an ugly night on the island of Simeulue in conservative Muslim Aceh in which he left his hotel room in his underwear and attacked a local fisherman.
Mr Risby-Jones, who hopes to resume his job as a mechanic at Noosa Heads on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast after five weeks in custody, claims the incident was a misunderstanding.
His problems started when he chose to keep surfing, missing travel connections for his flight to Australia. Simeulue is known for consistent waves year round.
Stressed about how and when he would return to Queensland, the 23-year-old claimed he had a shot of vodka in his hotel room late at night on April 27.
Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones faces up to five years in prison after an ugly night on the island of Simeulue in conservative Muslim Aceh following a ‘drunken naked frenzy’
When Mr. Risby-Jones punched and threw a motorbike, he was immediately overpowered by the locals, some of whom stopped him while others kicked him
He tried to secretly swim in his underwear at midnight, but was spotted by locals when he tried to get back to his hotel room.
Unfortunately, the back gate of the hotel was locked and as he hurried forward he was followed by a growing crowd that began to follow him.
‘Really scared’ and unable to explain himself to the locals, who mainly speak Acehnese and rarely English, Mr Risby-Jones panicked.
“People started making a bit of a scene and then a person came really close to me and I was like ‘get out, I’m just going to the resort,’ but they obviously didn’t understand me because they don’t speak English.” They came very close to me and I pushed them away,” he said The Australian.
Then they started to get angry. A person came up to grab me, so I hit him. There was a motorcycle there and to tell everyone to leave me alone, I threw the motorcycle and that’s how Edi Ron got hurt.”
When Mr. Risby-Jones punched and pushed Edi Ron off his bike, he was immediately overpowered by the locals, some of whom stopped him while others kicked him.
Edi Ron, a 38-year-old local fisherman and father of six, suffered broken bones and a deep wound to his foot in the fall.
Mr. Risby-Jones was held in an Indonesian prison where Sharia law is applied
Mr Risby-Jones apologized to the fisherman he had hurt and to all Indonesians, saying he was ‘deeply sorry for the grief I have caused’
He required stitches and two pins in his foot and ongoing medical therapy in Banda Aceh, which can only be reached by a 20-hour boat ride and then a road trip.
Mr Risby-Jones was spared a long prison sentence through negotiations under Indonesia’s restorative justice system, which focuses on the direct participation of offenders, victims and society in the resolution process.
Mr Risby Jones attended a reconciliation meeting with Edi Ron last week and agreed to pay him compensation worth approximately AU$25,000.
‘Staying in an Indonesian cell for a month is hard on the body and on the mental (well-being)…
At the meeting, he apologized to Edi Ron and his wife and reportedly handed over brown bags full of cash as part of the settlement.
He also apologized to the Indonesians, saying he was “deeply sorry for the grief I have caused.”
Local authorities in Aceh said the agreed amount was 250 million rupiah ($25,000), the ABC reported. The fisherman’s family had originally sought around $60,000.
In a separate video, overseen by Indonesian authorities, Mr Risby-Jones was asked what advice he would give to ‘young Australians’ planning to visit Indonesia.
Mr Risby-Jones has been spared long jail time through negotiations under Indonesia’s restorative justice system
He paid compensation worth approximately AU$25,000 to the fisherman, Edi Ron, and his family
‘I would say, know the rules when you go abroad, especially to Aceh in Indonesia, which is very different from Bali.
“The laws are very strict and for me I didn’t know the full laws of, like Sharia, they take things extremely seriously so check your laws and know what you’re going to be doing before you travel anywhere.”
Mr Risby-Jones also said he might write a book about his experiences in Indonesia and maybe one day return to ‘build a surf resort’.
But he also admitted that the experience would take him “years” to recover from.