Australian David Van Iersel and William Cabantog of Melbourne escorted by Denpasar Police to hand over that case to Prosecutor in Denpasar, Bali. Both were arrested at Lost City Night Club in Canggu, North Kuta. Picture: Lukman S. BIntoro
Australian David Van Iersel and William Cabantog of Melbourne escorted by Denpasar Police to hand over that case to Prosecutor in Denpasar, Bali. Both were arrested at Lost City Night Club in Canggu, North Kuta. Picture: Lukman S. BIntoro

Aussie’s Bali jail virus fears

An Australian man held in Bali's notoriously overcrowded Kerobokan prison should be released early due to the threat posed by the coronavirus, friends say.

Will Cabantog, 36, from Melbourne, is due for release in July after serving a year for cocaine possession.

His friend David Van Iersel, 38, will be released tonight after serving nine months for the same offence.

 

William Cabantog was allegedly in possession of 1.12 grams of cocaine and arrested in July following a police operation targeting cocaine trafficking in Canggu, Kuta, Bali. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
William Cabantog was allegedly in possession of 1.12 grams of cocaine and arrested in July following a police operation targeting cocaine trafficking in Canggu, Kuta, Bali. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

The pair were arrested at the Lost City nightclub in Bali's trendy Canggu district last July.

Friends of Mr Cabantog are worried the coronavirus outbreak, which is threatening to overwhelm Indonesia's health system, could have a devastating effect in the prison.

A riot erupted last week in a jail in North Sulawesi where inmates were concerned about a guard who was showing symptoms of the virus.

Indonesia is releasing 50,000 prisoners who are close to the end of their sentences to try to reduce the risk, but Mr Cabantog has so far been told he must serve his remaining three months behind bars.

"I've spoken to Will and we're both worried that, due to the pandemic, Kerobokan prison does not have enough testing kits, social distancing is near-impossible due to the number of inmates and further riots might take place due to requests for mass testing,'' a friend told News Corp.

 

Will Cabantog in his cell at the Kerobokan prison in Bali. Picture: Supplied
Will Cabantog in his cell at the Kerobokan prison in Bali. Picture: Supplied

He said prison authorities were working hard to reduce the risk.

"William has reported that the prison authorities are doing all they can to prevent the outbreak by giving out sanitary supplies to all prisoners, hand sanitiser and face masks, regular decontamination sprays and temperature testing.''

However, the risk remained to all prisoners including five Australians in Kerobokan.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, which is providing consular assistance to Mr Cabantog and other Australians in the jail, told News Corp it was "closely monitoring developments on Indonesia's policy for the release of prisoners in response to COVID-19.''

The department said it understood the policy to release prisoners near the end of their sentences did not apply to foreign prisoners.

 

Indonesian Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said last week that 53 foreigners would be included in those released, but it is understood these prisoners are mostly West Papuans detained on border offences, and does not include western inmates.

Mr Cabantog's friend said his family was desperate for him to return to Melbourne before he was put at further risk by the coronavirus pandemic.

"My feeling is that no-one is coming to rescue Will and our constant requests for early release by our consulate is falling on deaf ears,'' he said.

"Will is currently fit, healthy and continually reading and teaching English to fellow inmates and studying every day, praying that he gets to see his sick mother who worked in the Australian health care system as a retired nurse for over 40 years.

"She's suffering from diabetes and arthritis and hopes and prays every day to see her soon as possible.''

Originally published as Aussie's Bali jail virus fears

Cabantog inside the cell of Denpasar District Court waiting for his trial. Picture: Lukman S.Bintoro
Cabantog inside the cell of Denpasar District Court waiting for his trial. Picture: Lukman S.Bintoro
Will Cabantog was arrested in Bali in possession of cocaine. Picture: Instagram
Will Cabantog was arrested in Bali in possession of cocaine. Picture: Instagram


Drug habit drives single mum to new low

Premium Content Drug habit drives single mum to new low

A mother of two has admitted to 19 offences, blaming a drug habit for her...

Watch Ipswich juniors in state final: Team’s great support

Premium Content Watch Ipswich juniors in state final: Team’s great support

Ipswich Basketball Association receives praise for helping teenage team make...

How this toothless spitter copped a punch in the face

Premium Content How this toothless spitter copped a punch in the face

A man who spat on a police officer has been told he probably deserved the instant...