Italian expat now terror suspect after alleged Lion Air bomb threat.
Western men who have lived in Indonesia for 10+ years have usually mastered several key areas, such as:
Indeed, as someone who gets regularly fingerprinted and photographed for immigration/visa purposes, the author has wanted to suggest to immigration officials that their time would be better spent profiling Indonesians. The reason being in the past Western men have always been the victims of crime (not the perpetrators), especially in cases of terrorism.
Mr Andrea Giovanni Sorteni, 47, appeared to be one such expat living happily in Bali. An Italian painter – of art, not of walls – he has lived in Bali for 10 years and is married to a local lady. But everything changed three weeks ago.
On the evening of Sunday 14 October, Mr Sorteni allegedly phoned the Lion Air call centre and made
an offer they couldn’t refuse a threat they couldn’t ignore. He allegedly said – in Indonesian, presumably – that there was a bomb in a bag on board Lion Air JT568 from Yogyakarta to Denpasar. Perhaps, a horse’s head (or lion’s head) couldn’t be found…
Airport security delayed the flight while they inspected the plane, but found no bomb and cleared the flight to travel to Denpasar as planned.
Police soon traced the call to Mr Sorteni’s mobile phone. Further investigation uncovered a possible motive: his wife was initially on the passenger manifest for the flight, but did not board after failing to check-in. There are also suggestions that Mr Sorteni may have “drunk and dialed”.
Mr Sorteni was soon arrested and flown to Yogyakarta – curiously, on Lion Air – for questioning. His wife was also questioned, but only as a witness. Mr Sorteni was subsequently charged with terrorism offences.
For his part, Mr Sorteni denies the allegations; he claims he was only requesting his wife be allowed to travel on a different flight. Known only as Mrs UM, his wife hails from the terrorist hotspot of Solo in Central Java, but is not believed to be involved in her husband’s plot.
While some have suggested Mr Sorteni will now have a lot more time to practice painting on prison walls, similar offences have usually incurred a short jail term.
In 2005, the jealous fiancée of a Thai Embassy security guard wanted to prevent her spouse-to-be’s upcoming leave and solo trip to his hometown. Conventional persuasion failed, so she sms-ed a bomb threat to the Jakarta Police Chief against the Thai Embassy (and the British Embassy too, as a red herring). Once it was establised her only motive was to “control her fiancé’s movements”, she received a 1-year jail sentence, shorter than the maximum of 4 years.
In 2009, the relative of a passenger left stranded by Sriwijaya Air hired a group of 11 thugs to smash up the Sriwijaya Air ticket office at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport with tin sticks and samurai swords. This happened in broad daylight, and 9 of the 11 assailants escaped airport security and police in an hour-long car chase down the airport toll road.
Regardless, it seems unusual that Mr Sorteni – a 10-year veteran expat – would lose his cool over a relatively minor issue, especially when considering everything else that might upset him on a daily basis. To put it another way, people who are easily upset by culture shock and small things don’t usually live in Indonesia for so long.
Or maybe the author is managing his expectations better than some.
Perhaps some other long-term expats could share what (if anything) still makes them lose their cool and go troppo.
UPDATE: 12 FEBRUARY 2013
The defendant in the telephone terror case involving a Lion Air plane flying from Yogya to Bali last year, Giovanni Andrea Sorteni (49), died in Sleman District Hospital, Yogyakarta on Monday at around 1.30pm. Sorteni allegedly died from acute and severe dehydration.
The Italian … was taken to Sleman hospital unconscious from his Yogya cell on Monday.
“Having undergone hospital diagnosis in the ED Sleman, Giovanni was found to have severe dehydration and diarrhea. The patient also suffered renal failure, high sugar levels and also had an infection in his body,” explained Director of Hospital Sleman, Joko Hastrayo.
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