MEULABOH – An Australian surfer who was jailed for attacking several people while drunk and naked in Indonesia’s deeply conservative Muslim province of Aceh will be deported to his country after he agreed to apologize and pay compensation, officials said Wednesday.
Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones, 23, from Queensland, was detained in late April on Simeulue Island, a surf resort in West Aceh regency, after police accused him of going on a drunken rampage that left a fisherman with serious injuries.
Risby-Jones walked free on Tuesday after he went through a restorative justice process by offering to apologize for the attack and pay compensation to the fisherman’s family to avoid going to court and face a possible charge of assault that could land him up to five years in prison, said Fauzi, who heads the Immigration Office in Meulaboh, the capital of West Aceh regency.
Fauzi, who uses a single name like many Indonesians, declined to disclose the compensation amount the two sides agreed on, but local and Australian media said Risby-Jones paid about 250 million rupiah ($16,810) to the family and full hospital fees for the injured fisherman. He underwent surgery in Banda Aceh, the provincial capital, for broken bones and a serious infection in his legs.
Risby-Jones was taken from Simeulue Island to Meulaboh by ferry late Tuesday. He was scheduled to appear at the Meulaboh immigration office on Wednesday to sign paperwork before heading back to Australia, Fauzi said.
Footage of his release on Tuesday showed Risby-Jones wearing a dark blue T-shirt and detainee’s red vest as was being escorted by officers to a bus after hugging and saying goodbye to several prison wardens.
“It’s been a long time coming and I’m feeling amazing and super happy and grateful,” he said. "Everyone has been very nice and accommodated me well, thank you.”
Immigration authorities have been coordinating with Australian diplomats on his deportation, Fauzi said. Risby-Jones will stay at an immigration detention facility until his documents and plane tickets are ready, Fauzi said.
Violent acts by foreigners are very rare in Aceh, the only province in Muslim-majority Indonesia that practices Shariah, a concession made by the central government in 2001 as part of efforts to end a decades-long war for independence. Risby-Jones is the first foreigner to successfully resolve a case through restorative justice in the province.
The sale and consumption of alcohol is forbidden in Aceh, and those found drunk have been caned in public.