Malaysian Court Upholds Ruling to Acquit Woman Accused in Indonesian Maid’s Murder

Nisha David
Kuala Lumpur
200922-MY-ID-Maid1000 Ambrosius Koa (front right), a relative of Adelina Sau, an Indonesian domestic helper who died in Malaysia, helps airport officials unload her coffin at Kupang airport, Indonesia, Feb. 17, 2018.

The Indonesian consulate and a local human rights group criticized Malaysia’s Court of Appeal on Tuesday for upholding a High Court decision to acquit a woman accused of fatally abusing an Indonesian maid and forcing her to sleep outside with a dog in 2018.

Domestic worker Adelina Lisao, 21, was rescued in February 2018 after she was found sleeping outside her employer’s house in Bukit Mertajam in Penang state. She had suffered wounds to her face, hands and legs and died of organ failure at a hospital the next day.

Her employer, Ambika M.A. Shan, was charged with murder and could have faced the death penalty if convicted, but the High Court in Penang acquitted her in April 2019 without stating a reason.

The Consulate General of Indonesia in Penang said it did not believe Adelina had gotten justice through the appellate court’s ruling on Tuesday.

“The Consulate General of Indonesia in Penang respects the decision of the Malaysian Court of Appeal, but we are not pleased with the said decision, as it means that justice has not been served,” the consulate told BenarNews in a statement.

The consulate said it was awaiting a decision from the Attorney General’s chambers.

“The Consulate will wait for the decision from the AG Chambers to respond to the decision within the 10 days-time frame given by the Court of Appeal. We believe the AG Chambers also shared the same vision to find justice for the late Adelina Lisao,” it said.

The Indonesian government will continue in its effort to find justice for Adelina and her family, it added.

Earlier in the day, a panel of three Court of Appeal judges chaired by Yaacob Md Sam ruled that Akhtar Tahir, the high court judge who acquitted Shan, made no error in judgment.

“We are satisfied that the judge exercised his power rightfully. Thus, the decision by the High Court was correct and fair,” Yaacob said while upholding the decision that set aside the prosecution’s appeal, Free Malaysia Today reported.

Shan, now 62, was not present when the Court of Appeal delivered its ruling, according to the Malaysian newspaper report.

In February 2018, police and other officials rescued Adelina after authorities received a complaint from a neighbor, local councilman Joshua Woo Sze Zeng said at the time.

Woo Sze Zeng said he found the wounded maid sleeping in the house’s carport. She had been forced to sleep there for almost two months, close to a leashed Rottweiler, according to a neighbor.

Police arrested Shan and her two children shortly after Adelina was removed from their house.

Rights group criticizes decision

Meanwhile, Tenaganita, a leading Malaysian human rights group, said it was shocked by the Court of Appeal’s decision as it urged the prosecution to file alternative criminal charges against Shan.

“We have been made aware that the prosecution has 10 days to charge the perpetrator with another charge, and we hope that she can be charged under Section 304A of the Penal Code [death by negligence] because Adelina was so brutally and severely abused by the employer that her body could only succumb to death,” Glorene Das, the executive director of the group that works for the rights of migrants and refugees, said in a statement.

Shan’s acquittal would send a “very dangerous” message to those who abuse and exploit other human beings, said the group.

“We must put an end the climate of impunity afforded to employers or any perpetrators, who abuse, cheat, severely harm and even carry out acts that lead to the deaths of domestic workers, with little consequence to them.”


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