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Australian surfer faces possible flogging, jail after alleged naked, drunken rampage in Indonesia

<i>Fachrul Reza/NurPhoto/AP/FILE</i><br/>Indonesia's conservative province of Aceh uses caning as a form of punishment.
Associated Press
Fachrul Reza/NurPhoto/AP/FILE
Indonesia's conservative province of Aceh uses caning as a form of punishment.

By Heather Chen, CNN

An Australian man arrested in a conservative area of Indonesia over an alleged violent rampage faces the possibility of prison time and a public flogging, authorities have said.

Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones, 23, from Noosa in southern Queensland, was arrested after allegedly attacking and injuring a local fisherman while drunk.

Wearing an orange prison suit, handcuffs and a black balaclava, Risby-Jones was on Friday escorted to a press conference where he kept his head down while police officials outlined the allegations against him.

He had been staying at a local resort while on a surfing trip to the island of Simeulue on April 27, when he went “berserk” and hit a resort guard before chasing and striking residents of a nearby village, the officials said.

“According to people present at the scene, (he) went out of his room completely naked, yelling and causing a ruckus,” said Simeulue Police Chief AKBP Jatmiko.

Jatmiko told the press conference that Risby-Jones had gone on to attack a local fisherman who fell off his motorcycle and sustained “a serious foot injury that required 50 stitches.”

“(Risby-Jones will now be) subject to Article 351 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the law… which carries a maximum imprisonment of five years,” Jatmiko added.

Police said Risby-Jones would be prosecuted for drinking alcohol, which is prohibited in Aceh and punishable by law.

Located on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, deeply conservative Aceh has a special autonomous status. It is the only Indonesian province officially practicing Sharia law, enforced by religious police officers known as the Wilayatul Hisbah, and outlaws homosexuality, adultery, alcohol and gambling.

The police chief said Risby-Jones would have a choice over whether to be prosecuted under Sharia law or provincial law. If found guilty under Sharia law he faces the possibility of 40 lashes and up to 2.5 years jail. If found guilty under provincial law, he faces the possibility of up to five years’ jail.

His family released a statement on April 30, saying he was “embarrassed and ashamed of his behavior” and wanted to apologize to “the people of Indonesia for disrespecting their culture and laws.”

CNN reached out to the Australian embassy in Jakarta for further comment but has not yet heard back.

Public floggings of both men and women in Aceh have made global headlines over the years.

Several public caning sessions have also seen gay and lesbian couples being whipped for sexual relations.

During Friday’s conference, police officers produced a bottle of vodka which they alleged was drunk by Risby-Jones.

They also presented the findings of a medical report on his alleged victim.

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