Indonesia court jails British woman for slapping immigration officer

An Indonesian court on Wednesday jailed a British woman for six months for slapping an immigration officer in the face on the island of Bali after an argument over a fine for staying in the country after her visa expired.

Auj-e Taqaddas, 42, was found guilty in a court in Bali’s capital, Denpasar, of violence against an officer at Bali’s airport carrying out his legal duty, Judge Esther Oktavi told Reuters.

“The sentence is six months in prison,” Oktavi said by text message.

The sentence was lighter than the one-year jail term sought by the prosecutor over the incident on July 28 last year.

“This is an unfair decision … I was forcibly brought to the court, no lawyers provided,” Taqaddas told the court, accusing the prosecutors of torturing her three times and trapping her in the country.

The judge and prosecutor said Taqaddas had filed an appeal.

Her sentencing had been postponed several times because she was sick and also when authorities said she had checked out of a hotel, and could not find her when they tried to collect her for the hearing.

A smartphone video of the purported incident, which went viral at the time, showed an agitated Taqaddas shouting and swearing at the immigration official, before slapping him across the face after grappling to snatch her passport back from him.

The woman had overstayed by about 160 days and was asked to pay a fine of 300,000 rupiahs ($21.60 for each day, or about $3,500 in all.

The resort island is Indonesia’s main tourism hub, attracting millions of foreign tourists a year to its beaches, temples and bars.

A small number of visitors run into trouble with the law every year, sometimes for breaking the Southeast Asian country’s tough laws on drugs.