Yachtie tells of jail ordeal
Cindy Wockner in Bali - 23nov04

SPECIAL delivery . . . police deliver a breakfast of boiled eggs, toast and orange juice to Christopher Packer in a Bali jail yesterday.
CHRISTOPHER Packer, the Australian sailor being held on weapons charges in a Bali jail, has now offered to assist police in finding a sixth gun that may be on his impounded boat.

In his first lengthy interview from behind bars, Mr Packer, a well-known yachtsman, yesterday told of the cockroaches infesting his tiny cell and reiterated his innocence of anything other than failing to declare the guns on his boat. He also vented his anger on a former passenger who he claimed had told police he was a gun and drug runner.

"I have never sold a gun in my life. I have never sold any drugs, I don't understand what they are on about. I can prove that I have got every gun that I have ever had . . . never have I sold a gun," Mr Packer said.

The 52-year-old denied any knowledge of a small amount of green leaf material found in a plastic bag in a drawer of the boat's saloon and which is being tested to see if it is marijuana.

Mr Packer said he had had enough of South-East Asia and when he was released from jail and the case was over, he would not return to the region.

"I would much rather stay in First World countries where I am appreciated as a nice person."

Police who raided his 60m restored trading boat called the Lissa on Friday night found five weapons and more than 2000 bullets which had not been declared to Indonesian authorities upon entering territorial waters.

However, they had failed to find a sixth gun, believed to be a revolver, for which there was ammunition.

Yesterday, Mr Packer did not want to comment on the gun but his lawyer, M.H. Rifan, said his client was not sure where it was located on the boat but was prepared to help police to search further and was going to provide a further statement to police.

Meanwhile, Mr Packer, from Perth's wealthy suburb of Peppermint Grove, spent his day locked in the hot 4m by 4m jail cell at Benoa Harbour police station and reading a John Grisham novel a far cry from his time on the Lissa, which he has sailed around the world for five years.

Mr Packer said police were treating him well but the conditions at the jail were getting him down. He was sleeping on a mattress that had been brought from the boat but the cell was infested with large cockroaches and was filthy, with some excrement on the wall.

"I got 10 cockroaches last night, none of them smaller than two inches long," he said.

He has been allowed some other possessions from the boat, such as a fan and carpet. Yesterday, police brought him a breakfast of boiled eggs, toast and orange juice prepared by his five crew. The boat was docked at Benoa Harbour.

Mr Packer said he believed his troubles emanated from a Scottish backpacker and his girlfriend who had travelled from Broome in WA to Lombok on his boat.

Investigation chief Captain Made Ayutha said yesterday the dossier or brief of evidence was almost complete, pending a further search for the sixth weapon. The case was then expected to be handed to Bali prosecutors for a decision on appropriate charges.

Mr Packer would face a maximum 20-year jail term if convicted of having undeclared weapons.

Thrown in jail `for failing to tick a box'
By Jakarta Correspondent CINDY WOCKNER - 22nov04

AUSTRALIAN sailor Christopher Packer, who is being held in a Bali police jail on weapons charges, said yesterday he was not a criminal and was guilty only of failing to tick a box on a form.

Mr Packer said his predicament was the result of a disgruntled Scottish backpacker who hitched a ride from Australia to Indonesia.

He accused the backpacker of making accusations to police that he was smuggling guns and drugs.

Mr Packer, 52, freely admitted he has carried guns on the restored trading vessel called the Lissa since he first set off to journey around the world five years ago.

He said they had saved his life and that of his crew on one occasion when they were attacked by pirates.

Now, rather than the pleasant surroundings of his 60m boat, his home is a tiny jail cell, which he said "is terrible", at the Benoa Harbour Police Station.

He spoke to The Advertiser as police guards allowed him to return to the boat to use the bathroom before taking him back to the cell.

He was allowed to take some basic creature comforts with him a fan, a John Grisham novel, a roll of carpet to sleep on and some cockroach bait "so some of them die".

His boat is "under arrest" with police onboard.

"As far as I know, I am guilty of not ticking one box when I checked into Kupang (in Timor)," Mr Packer said.

He said the agent he had employed to take care of Customs and immigration paperwork when he first arrived in Indonesian waters in mid-September had put a cross next to "arms" on the form, meaning the boat did not have any guns on board.

Mr Packer said most boats carried guns for protection.

"We have had these same guns on board for five years, absolutely, and we have had to use them. In Peru 1 1/2 years ago, pirates came on board one night and stole everything we had, then two weeks later came back with balaclavas and the whole bit and tried to climb up the side of the boat and if we didn't have guns we would be dead, absolutely," Mr Packer said.

Police have said they stopped Mr Packer's boat as it was leaving Bali headed to Malaysia on Friday afternoon after receiving a tip-off from a confidential source that he was carrying weapons on board.

Mr Packer has his own suspicions about the source of the tip-off a Scottish backpacker and his girlfriend who cruised on the boat from Broome to Indonesia and who left at Lombok on "bitter" terms.

"He said that we were smuggling guns and trading in heroin and he told them exactly where the guns were in the boat and he told them where the heroin was, but that was fictitious and there wasn't any.

"The police went straight to the guns and arrested us."

Bali police spokesman Antonios Reniban said Mr Packer had been officially declared a suspect under Indonesian law and was being held in custody. He could be charged under the country's anti-weapons laws, which carry a maximum 20-year jail term for carrying guns without the proper licence.

'Pull my yacht apart again and I will sue'
By Cindy Wockner - November 24, 2004

CHAMPION yachtsman Christopher Packer has threatened to sue Indonesian police if they ``pull apart'' his vessel searching for heroin.

Speaking yesterday as police released him from his jail cell briefly to move his 60m boat, Lissa Avatiu, to a new mooring in Bali's Benoa Harbour, Packer said he wanted to clear his name and warned he would take legal action if the boat was damaged in further searches.

"If they pull it apart again ... I will sue," Packer said, adding his crew would leave if a further search was conducted. "I will sue them, I will leave the boat with them and I will sue them."

And the 52-year-old sailor from Perth vehemently denied any accusation he had heroin on board the "I have never seen heroin in my life and I have never had heroin on the ship. I welcome clearing my name.

They have had narcotics dogs through the boat, they have had explosives dogs through the boat, they have had everything and as far as I know my name is clear," he said.

"I have never had a conviction anywhere in my life, no conviction for anything anywhere."

What appeared at first to be a simple brush with law shows no sign of ending for the millionaire sailor.

Packer, a former property developer and and deer farmer, has been wandering the world for the past four years after he and his partners sold out of the world's biggest mast-building company for $20 million, Mr Packer has been held in the Benoa Harbour police jail since Friday afternoon as he attempted to sail from Bali heading for Malaysia.

Acting on a tip-off that there were weapons and drugs on board, the boat was searched.

Police found four rifles and shotguns, a pistol and more than 2000 bullets.

During another search on Saturday, several more bullets along with a tiny amount of green leaf material were found.

Late on Monday afternoon Packer then led police to the location of a sixth gun, a Smith and Wesson .357 revolver.

Police had been suspicious there was another gun because they found ammunition matching its type.

The sixth gun was included on an Australian Customs declaration form and obtained by his lawyers. Packer said he had nothing to hide and that all his guns were registered.

Police are close to completing a dossier or brief of evidence against Packer, who they allege entered Indonesian waters and failed to declare the existence of the weapons on customs and shipping documents - a charge carrying a maximum 20-year sentence

The Daily Telegraph

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All information is Copyright 1997 - 2006 'Foreign Prisoner Support Service' unless stated otherwise - Click here for the legal stuff