Australian who sparked Bali plane hijack alert released

JAKARTA (AFP) - An Australian man who sparked a hijack alert on a plane heading for Bali when he banged on the cockpit door was released without charge by Indonesian police on Sunday, officials said.

Matt Christopher Lockley, who has said he mistook the cockpit of the Virgin Australia jet for the toilet, will be dealt with by Australian authorities as the incident on Friday took place on an aircraft registered in that country, they said.

Bali police official Suryambodo Asmoro said the 28-year-old, whom Indonesian officials initially said was drunk during the midair scare, will travel back to Australia unescorted as he "has good intentions to return to his country".

Speaking publicly for the first time since the incident, Mr Lockley said the drama was a case of miscommunication.

"I made an accident by knocking on the cockpit door," he told reporters at a police station on the Indonesian resort island, repeating what police have said he told them in interviews.

"I want to say thank you to the Indonesian police and authorities. They have only followed procedure and they have provided me with a lot of care and support."

Security forces rushed to the airport as the Boeing 737-800 from Brisbane touched down, after the pilot reported a hijack attempt when someone started banging loudly on the cockpit door.

Mr Lockley was dragged off the plane by heavily armed air force personnel and the airport was briefly shut down, causing several planes to be diverted to other Indonesian airports.

Indonesian officials initially said that Mr Lockley was drunk but he has denied this and claimed that after falling asleep on the flight, he woke up and accidentally banged on the cockpit door believing it was the toilet.

Mr Lockley, from the northeast Australian state of Queensland, also said that he was depressed during the journey as he was heading to Indonesia to try and track down his Indonesian wife, with whom had lost contact several weeks earlier.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.