British tourist BANGED UP with ISIS members in Indonesia
WITH its golden beaches, tropical temperatures and laid-back culture, it’s clear to see why Indonesia is a top tourist destination for sun-starved Brits.
But ex-soldier Matt Davies’ trip to the idyllic holiday resort ended in horror when he was arrested and banged up with ISIS members for six months in one of the world’s most dangerous prisons.
Matt, from Wales, was just 24 and on the holiday of a lifetime when he was approached by a man who offered him an IT role – and the opportunity to turn his trip into a working holiday.
He jumped at the chance, but his holiday quickly became a nightmare when he was arrested for working on the wrong visa, and was locked up in a cell with 300 other men – some of them terrorists, rapists and murderers.
While there, Matt was threatened with homemade shanks, drugged while he slept and saw men eating their money – then rummaging through their own poo for it – in order to survive.
Every year nearly 6,000 Brits are arrested abroad – most young, on holiday and looking to escape real life for a sunsoaked getaway.
Now, Matt is telling his story along with two other Brits in the first episode of a new series of Channel 5’s Young, Dumb And Locked Up In The Sun.
‘I knew things were going to spiral out of control’
When Matt first arrived in Jakarta, he was ecstatic to start his holiday.
“Indonesia was quite fun. It was very different from Wales,” he says. “I felt more free to do what I wanted to do and the people were very friendly.”
But all that changed one day when Matt was at work and accosted by some plain clothes immigration officers who asked to see his visa.
Matt says: “They said this is not the right visa – but I was quite unaware what you could and couldn’t do with the visa.”
“They took me to the local police station and at that point I knew things were just going to spiral out of control.”
Matt spent six months in the Indonesian jail, alongside child molesters, rapists and murderers – Credit: BackGrid
While holed up in a police cell, Matt soon learned the grim reality of his seemingly small error – in Indonesia working on the wrong visa can result in five years in prison and a £27,000 fine.
Last year 15 per cent of all British arrests abroad related to visa offences.
While waiting to hear what was going to happen to him Matt was transferred to one of the country’s most dangerous prisons, Cipinang prison.
In 2005, an Amnesty International report found that over 81 per cent of prisoners in Cipinang prison were tortured or illtreated – with most prisoners suffering stiff joints from sleeping on concrete.
Prisoners were also reportedly forced to share one toilet – which is a hole in the floor – between 30, and soap is hard to come by for showers.
He says: “You don’t know where you’re going to end up.
“I was very scared.
“Arriving at the prison, you could see it was very run down. The immigration officers said it was quite notorious. You need to be strong.”
Hiding money in poo
Conditions were awful, and Matt had his wallet stolen and was threatened by other prisoners who had weapons such as homemade shanks – toothbrushes they’d sharpened into points to stab people.
Matt says: “They put me in a hall. It was all caged off.
“There’s 300 Indonesians in there – they are in there for drug dealing, rape, murder, mafia and things. It was horrible.” No-one was safe, and some resorted to desperate measures to protect their belongings.
Matt says: “One guy, he’d wrap his money up and then swallow it just to keep it safe, and then he’d have to go through his faeces later on to go to the shop. You needed money to buy food. There’d be three days where I could go without food.”
Drugged with crystal meth while sleeping
Matt finally managed to get out of the 300-man block, by paying £1,000 for a bed in a seven man cell – but even then, he wasn’t safe.
He says: “I fell asleep at one point and they were blowing smoke in my face. I woke up feeling really weird – then realised it was crystal meth.”
Over the next three months, Matt turned his efforts to learning Arabic and eventually converted to Islam.
He also met an ISIS terrorist called Hassan.
He says: “Even though he was ISIS, he was such a nice guy. It’s so bizarre. He’d show me beheading videos and things. I think he was trying to get me a bit more extreme.”
Eventually, Matt was taken to court and bribed the judge to let him go by giving him £2,000.
He says: “At the end of the day I did have the wrong visa, I just don’t understand why they imprisoned me.” Now back in the UK, Matt says his experience has made him more humble and patient.
He says: “I have more respect for the smaller things in life now. In there I had to live on not much.
“I can live on not much money now. Before I would spend money I didn’t have.
“It’s shown me how to be more controlled and calmer and collected. I used to be a bit hyper.”