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Six Americans Released From Jail In Indonesia

May 25, 1988

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Authorities released from jail six Americans and four other foreigners charged with violating the country’s territorial waters, but kept them under city arrest until a court decides their case.

The group includes three Australians and a Briton and some members threatened Monday to launch a hunger strike to try to expedite the proceedings. The 10 were arrested March 22 for allegedly entering Indonesian waters without a proper permit in the eastern Sumatra province of Riau, a few miles south of Singapore.

A local news report quoted one of the Americans as saying the group was on a scuba diving holiday looking for a sunken wreck when they were arrested.

Indonesian newspapers said that in 1986 the crew of a British vessel, the Ocean Pluto, had recovered $15 million worth of china and gold bullion from the wreck of a Dutch ship, the Geldermalsen, that sank in 1752 near where the 10 were found by the authorities.

Public Prosecutor Halius Hosen said the foreigners were not charged with illegally hunting for treasure: ″The charge is that they have entered Indonesian waters and held scientific research without proper permit.″

Hosen said by telephone today that the group was released from jail May 5 in the provincial city of Tanjung Pinang ″but they are not allowed to leave.″

He said some of the foreigners denied the charge and some had threatened to go on a hunger strike after a preliminary court hearing Monday during which the trial was adjourned until June 2.

The prosecutor said he did not know whether the protesters had begun a hunger strike. He also said he had not decided what punishment to seek for the defendants.

Hosen refused to link the foreigners’ detention with the Geldermalsen wreck, which was left there by the British divers in 1985.

The six Americans, all from California, were identified as Daniel M. Commerford, 38; Robert Alan Lanham, 34; and Bruce Edward Lanham, 34; Patrick Gilbert Gibson, 47; Clifton Bert Craft, 43; and James E. Vorus, 46.

The Australians are Peter John Howes, 30; Martino Paul Kenneth, 40, and Paul Martino, Jr., 17. The Briton is Mark Tomlinson, 26.

No hometowns were available, and none of the 10 could be reached for comment.

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