January 8, 2015 Update -- Ketut Pujayasa was sentenced to 30 years, five months in a federal prison, according to multiple news reports. After serving his sentence, Pujayasa will be deported.(7 p.m. EST) -- Federal agents arrested a Holland America Line room service attendant Sunday for attempted murder and aggravated sexual assault of a cruise passenger.
According to the FBI, Ketut Pujayasa, a 28-year-old Indonesian citizen and crewmember onboard Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam, sexually assaulted and beat a 31-year old woman -- a U.S. citizen -- then attempted to strangle her and throw her overboard. Pujayasa said he attacked her because he felt she had insulted his family earlier that day, according to court documents.
Pujayasa told FBI investigators that while waiting to deliver breakfast to the woman's cabin, he knocked three times before being acknowledged. He said he then heard a female voice say, "Wait a minute, son of a bitch."
He told investigators the comment was offensive to him and his parents and he was angry the rest of the day. Later that day he attempted to track down the woman, first in her cabin, then on the Lido deck to "punch her in the face for insulting him that morning," according to the court documents. But the crowds on the Lido deck deterred him, so he returned to her cabin and let himself in with his company-issued master key.
He waited on the balcony for her to return, falling asleep briefly, before re-entering the room, where he found the woman in her bed and began punching and strangling her, according to the documents. The prolonged attack moved from the interior of the cabin to the balcony, where he tried to throw her overboard, then back inside, where knocking at the door interrupted the attack.
Pujayasa told the FBI he fled the scene by jumping from balcony to balcony along the exterior of the ship. The victim escaped into the corridor, where another passenger came to her aid. She was cared for onboard the ship, disembarked in Roatan, Honduras, then transferred by air to a hospital in the United States. The line also flew her family to be with her while she receives treatment.
Pujayasa returned to his cabin, where he instructed his roommate to call security because he killed a passenger, according to the documents.
According to Holland America, Pujayasa had been cleared by Indonesian police before he was hired, per the line's screening process, and had no previous criminal record. Additionally, the line's spokesman Erik Elvejord said all crewmembers undergo "rigorous visa requirements for the routes they will be sailing. For example, virtually all of our crewmembers must obtain a visa from the U.S. Embassy and are vetted by the U.S. Government prior to issuance of a visa."
U.S. Customs and Border Protection also vets them against all watch lists every 90 days, according to the line.
Pujayasa had been with the company since 2012. According to Holland America, he had no performance issues and came with good references. Immediately following the attack, the cruise line terminated his employment contract.
"We are terribly saddened by the senseless assault that took place on the ms Nieuw Amsterdam this past Friday, Feb. 14. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim and her family during this difficult time.
"While no words can adequately express our shock at this event, this has shaken the entire Holland America family to our very core," Holland America said in a prepared statement. "We continue to work closely with authorities to understand how this incident occurred and what additional actions we can take to help ensure that nothing like this ever happens again."
"At Holland America Line, the safety of our guests is our highest priority, and we are shocked and deeply saddened by this incident," Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America said, via the line's prepared statement. "To our knowledge, no incident like this has occurred in our company's 140-year history."
The FBI is investigating the attack under the special territorial and maritime jurisdiction, a legal code that gives the Bureau jurisdiction over crimes committed against a U.S. citizen even if the crime occurs in international waters.
Investigators from the FBI as well as Customs and Border Protection and the Broward Sheriff's Office met the ship when it returned to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, February 16, according to FBI Special Agent Michael D. Leverock.
Cruise Critic first reported the attack, which occurred during a full charter of Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam, Friday.
Pujayasa is scheduled for arraignment March 4.
--By Dori Saltzman, News Editor