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Resort where Australian ran wild must slaughter goat to make peace

Sydney Morning Herald - April 30, 2023

Karuni Rompies and Chris Barrett, Simeulue, Indonesia – The chief of the village where an Australian man embarked on an alleged naked rampage after drinking from a bottle of vodka says the resort he was staying in must slaughter a goat to restore peace to the deeply conservative Muslim community.

Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones, 23, is facing up to five years in prison or possibly flogging in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where Sharia law is in force, after being accused of a late-night assault that left a local fisherman in hospital.

The carpenter from Noosa is being held by police on the island of Simeulue, a surfing retreat off the west coast of Sumatra, as officers continue to probe last Thursday's incident.

Risby-Jones is being investigated for maltreatment under Indonesia's penal code after being accused of dislodging villager Edi Ron from his motorcycle and leaving him needing 50 stitches in his ankle.

He had minutes earlier emerged from his room at the nearby Moon Beach Resort in Simeuleu without clothes on and struck a security guard before charging at the motorcycle rider, according to police.

Video footage showed Risby-Jones then being pinned to the ground by local residents, who were so incensed that they threatened to set fire to the hotel.

Police on the island were on Sunday still to decide whether to pursue the Australian for drinking alcohol, which is banned in Aceh and can be punished with up to 40 strokes of the cane if penalised under the province's Islamic laws.

He said in a video filmed with the police chief that was aired by the ABC that he only had one shot of duty-free vodka after a long day of surfing on what was an extremely hot day. He also insisted he was wearing underwear and was not completely naked.

A prosecution of Risby-Jones could be mitigated or dropped altogether if a financial settlement can be reached with his victim.

"If the victim decides not to process the case, we will drop the case," said an investigator on the case, who asked not to be named in order to speak freely.

While Risby-Jones awaits his fate, Lantik village chief Suhardi Fleno said the resort also had to make amends. In accordance with traditional practices in Aceh, they have to do so by slaughtering a goat, he said.

"Besides restorative justice I'd like to explain that we have a tradition here which we will do," he said. "It is called peusijuek, meaning we must have peace with the party that we have a problem with to prevent the same problem from recurring.

"It's between the village and the resort. We don't care if Bodhi gives the money to the resort [for the goat]. But we do care about the resort and our village. Bodhi is just a guest at the resort and the guests can come and go.

"We must slaughter a goat. It should be provided by the resort."

Risby-Jones has apologised for his behaviour, pleading for forgiveness, and said in the video interview with police that he had felt "almost possessed" during the onslaught and did not remember much because he had been hit and kicked on the ground when held down.

"I think there are two reasons [for his conduct]," the village chief said. "Either he was drunk or possessed... because there is a village cemetery behind the resort."

He said he had asked Edi Ron about whether he would accept a settlement but the fisherman told him he wanted to first focus on his health.

He has been transferred to provincial capital Banda Aceh for more treatment and his wife has said he will not be able to walk for three months.

"The wound is very bad. The motorbike was thown onto him and his right ankle bone," Fleno said.

But the village chief said the condition of the injury was also made worse by inadequate initial first aid treatment, as the gash was not properly cleaned.

The police investigator, meanwhile, said Risby-Jones had given a urine sample and tested negative to any drugs.

"I think he was depressed and dehydrated," he said. "He should have [flown] out of Simeulue [earlier in the day] but then he missed the flight. He told us he surfed all day that day. Perhaps when coming back to his inn, he had a drink just to relax a bit after surfing all the day.

"It was very hot that day. Perhaps he was drunk and depressed due to missing the flight and dehydrated, it all led him to acting like that."

Police in Aceh have consulted colleagues in Bali about how to proceed with their investigation but much may depend on any negotiations with the injured fisherman.

Under the legal article which has been applied to the case, he could face up to two years and eight months in prison for maltreatment, or up to five years if it was judged that he had caused serious physical injuries.

Risby-Jones said in a statement released by his family on Saturday that he was very remorseful, apologising to the motorcycle rider for the injuries caused, to the local police for wasting their resources, to his family for the trauma inflicted on them and "to the Australian people for embarrassing them".

"To all who I have disrespected and hurt, I am truly sorry, please forgive me," he said.

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/resort-where-australian-ran-wild-must-slaughter-goat-to-make-peace-20230429-p5d481.htm