An Australian man has been charged in Indonesia for spitting into the face of an imam at a mosque in the Indonesian city of Bandung, and could face over one year in prison.
- Brenton McArthur was charged with Articles 335 and 315 of the Criminal Code, which regulate unpleasant acts and insults
- He now faces imprisonment for up to 14 months
- A second Australian man could face five years in prison after an alleged drunken, naked rampage in Indonesia’s Aceh province
Indonesian police said Brenton Craig Abbas Abdullah McArthur, 47, was staying at a hotel right near the Jami-al Muhajir mosque.
In the early hours of Friday morning, he went in and approached imam M Basri Anwar at the pulpit, apparently to complain about the sound of recitations from the Koran being read through the mosques loud-speakers.
He then leaned forward and was captured on CCTV vision spitting into the imam’s face, while swearing repeatedly.
Police said they tracked him via his passport to Jakarta’s airport where he was about to fly home to Australia.
Indonesian news website Kumparan said Mr McArthur was charged with Articles 335 and 315 of the Criminal Code, which regulate unpleasant acts and insults, and now faces imprisonment for up to one year and two months.
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The website said Mr McArthur had denied the charges but was refuted by the testimony of five witnesses.
“We have taken all of the evidence available and have asked for statements from five witnesses,” Bandung police chief Kombes Budi Sartono told Kumparan news.
Mr McArthur has since posted a video on his Instagram account claiming he was the victim of racism.
His video post said: “Stop crying your rascist (sic) tears. I am a Muslim and this is just a rascist (sic), threatening a bule (foreigner) and laughing behind a coward.”
Video footage from mosque security cameras showed a man in a baseball cap approach the imam inside the mosque. After speaking him briefly, the man leans forward and spits into his face.
The imam recoils and flees, and the man turns and walks away.
Another Australian facing charges in Aceh
This is the second Australian man to be arrested in Indonesia in recent days following an incident in the conservative province of Aceh.
Queenslander Bodhi Mani Risby-Jones, 23, was on a surfing holiday when on Thursday morning he allegedly left his room while naked and chased and struck residents in a village.
He faces either two-and-a-half years in prison if the injuries caused are minor or up to five years in prison if the victims’ injuries are more serious.
Simeulue police chief detective Mayyuhd said Mr Risby-Jones would also be prosecuted for drinking alcohol, which is illegal for Muslims and non-Muslims in Aceh.
He will have a choice to be prosecuted under Sharia law or provincial law in relation to drinking alcohol under Sharia, he would be flogged 40 times if found guilty.
Police said he would be detained for up to 20 days while they investigate the case.
Aceh is the country’s most conservative province and also the only one that practises Sharia law, which non-Muslims can choose to be tried under.