Expat on Suicide Watch after Fiery Domestic

UBUD ~ A Turkish-American man is on suicide watch in Sanglah Hospital and Ubud Police are searching for his Javanese wife following the fiery result of a domestic dispute over money at Pengosekan, near Ubud, last weekend.

The man, Ali Balci (46) set fire to a restaurant and bar complex he operates – one of the bars was described by police as a “rage” bar – and then tried to hang himself while fire crews and local people were fighting the blaze and police called to the scene were trying to sort out traffic backed up on the busy road past the property.

Police are circulating a photograph of the 31-year-old woman, named as We or Esther, who they say has run away and is not answering her mobile phone, a prepaid number that has been giving an “uncontactable” signal.

Police want to speak to her about allegations of physical abuse and persecution made against her by her husband.

Balci told friends, an American consular official who visited him last weekend before the blaze on Sunday and police that he and his wife had repeatedly argued heatedly over her spending habits.

Police first took Balci to the health post at Mas after Sunday’s fiery domestic denouement but he was later admitted to Sanglah Hospital in a stressed condition and they have not been able to speak to him since. A police guard is with him.    Sunday’s blaze at the restaurant and bar complex caused traffic chaos in the area. Three fire trucks were sent to fight the fire, which damaged the grass roofs of bar and restaurant buildings and threatened to spread to another five buildings nearby.

Fire-fighters and local people had difficulty finding water and fought the flames for 90 minutes.

During the battle to control the fire, Balci told neighbours and police he was desperate because his wife had accumulated debts of billions of rupiah (hundreds of thousands of dollars). He then said he would hang himself.

Ubud Police chief A.A. Gede Sena said Balci then did so – at about 10am, while police were trying to keep traffic flowing on the busy road past the property. But he had been cut down by local people and police who rushed to his aid.

Police say Balci had previously made a complaint to them that he was being persecuted by his wife, who, he said, had in a rage burned tables and damaged his business buildings.

He had also previously attempted suicide with knives. He had been visited the day before the fire by a US consular representative and three friends, concerned about his state of mind, had stayed with him on the Saturday night.

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