Apr. 19 -- A missionary traveling from Virginia to Indonesia was in court here Wednesday after being arrested on charges he assaulted an airline stewardess while trying to get a glass of water. The assault forced the plane to make an unscheduled stop in Anchorage so the man could be taken into custody.
Pudjiadi Hidayat appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Deborah Smith wearing yellow prison garb with his ankles shackled.
The 48-year-old missionary, who is originally from Indonesia and still owns a garment business there, had been living in Virginia and California with a green card, said his lawyer in Anchorage, Charles Coe. Hidayat was returning to Indonesia on Monday to work with the UnveilinGlory ministry.
Hidayat was "irritated" at Northwest Airlines because a ticketing mistake meant he and his wife were on separate flights, Coe said. And after only five hours of sleep, the coach class passenger's nerves were on edge, his lawyer said.
So when Hidayat asked for a glass of water and was told he could not be served immediately, he got up and approached the stewardess.
In court Wednesday, Hidayat demonstrated on his lawyer the open-palmed tap to the shoulder that he gave the attendant to get her attention. The flight attendant was startled, but then gave Hidayat his water.
Hidayat apologized after the flight attendant objected to being touched. But the plane landed in Anchorage and he was arrested.
Hidayat was originally charged with the felony of committing a crime aboard an aircraft and interfering with a flight crew. On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney's office dropped those charges and arraigned him instead on a misdemeanor assault charge. He now faces up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.
At his court appearance, Hidayat took a long sip of water before he entered his plea of not guilty.
Coe said he plans to take the case to a jury trial and expects to win.
"I think they overreacted," he said after the brief court proceeding.
Hidayat was released on bond and told he must return to Virginia to await the trial.
Daily News reporter Megan Holland can be reached at .
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