Chris Barrett and Karuni Rompies – A young Australian man has been arrested in Indonesia's ultra-conservative Aceh province, accused of an alcohol-fuelled, naked rampage outside a beachside resort that left a passer-by in hospital and prompted an angry mob of residents to threaten to burn down the hotel.
Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones, 23, from Noosa, was detained following the incident in the early hours of Thursday morning on the island of Simeulue, a surfers' paradise off the coast of Sumatra, and faces as long as five years in prison if convicted.
Simeulue police chief Senior Commissioner Jatmiko said the Australian had been drinking from a bottle of vodka before emerging without clothes from his room at the Moon Beach Resort after midnight. Police said a half-empty bottle was found and Risby-Jones had told them he had not been drinking.
"He got out of his room naked. The security man attempted to stop him but got hit at the neck and fell down," alleged Jatmiko, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
"He then went onto the street and disturbed passers-by. He hit almost everyone who was on the street."
Risby-Jones is alleged to have then also struck a passing motorcycle rider and thrown the motorcycle onto him after he fell into the gutter.
Enraged at the tourist's alleged behaviour, and the injuries caused, onlookers tried to set the resort itself ablaze, the police chief said.
"The lower part of [the rider's] leg was ripped and he got 50 stitches at hospital," he said, adding that the victim had to be transferred to the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, because of limited health facilities in Simeulue.
"Knowing it, the people got angry and almost put the resort on fire. Luckily, local police and the village head managed to calm down the mob."
The sale and consumption of alcohol is banned in Aceh, where Islamic law or sharia is enforced, and public canings still take place for so-called morality offences such as premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality. People can be lashed for drinking alcohol.
Risby-Jones is not being investigated under the Islamic law because the report the motorcycle rider's wife submitted to police was about violence and not alcohol use.
Instead, he is facing a charge under Article 351 of the Indonesian penal code, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail for maltreatment resulting in serious physical injury.
However, police said they might still investigate the alcohol aspect and, if so, Islamic law might be applied as well.
Three non-Muslim Indonesian men were given 40 strokes of the cane in Banda Aceh in 2021 for drinking alcohol in public, and news outlet Tempo reported another person was sentenced to the same punishment in August.
Non-Muslims can choose whether to be penalised under Islamic law or under another law if one applies. Some have previously chosen the sharia punishment to avoid jail time.
In practice, there can be flexibility for foreign tourists arriving in the province who drink in private and that was the case with Risby-Jones, according to police.
"The security allowed him [to bring in alcohol] but only one bottle because we are under the Islamic sharia in Aceh," Jatmiko said.
"The district head issued instructions to ban alcoholic drinks because of the sharia. So we have the right to check tourists' luggage at the airport due to the Islamic law."
Risby-Jones told police he had come to the island for four days with a male friend to go surfing as part of a three-week trip to Indonesia.
Aceh, which lies at the north-west corner of the archipelago, is referred to as the Verandah of Mecca because it was the entry point of Islam to the archipelago.
While the semi-autonomous region is religiously conservative, it is the only province in Indonesia in which sharia is formally in place. Simeulue has long been a draw for surfers, with its uncrowded waves and untouched landscape.
"We have great surfing sites and waterfalls," the police chief said. "Those who have been here won't go to Bali any more [to surf]. Here it is clean and quiet."