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Jakarta Post

Govt dismayed by acquittal of maid's alleged Malaysian abuser

  • Dian Septiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, April 23, 2019   /   01:56 pm
Govt dismayed by acquittal of maid's alleged Malaysian abuser Petronela Koa hugs the coffin of her niece Adelina Sau at El Tari airport, Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on Saturday, Feb. 17. The body of Adelina, a migrant worker who was allegedly abused to death by her Malaysian employers, was buried in her home village of Ebi, Oenino district, South Central Timur regency. JP/Djemi Amnifu (JP/Djemi Amnifu)

A Malaysian woman was recently cleared of murdering her Indonesian maid, catching the Indonesian government off-guard and angering rights activists.

The Penang High Court ruled last week to acquit S. Ambika of the murder of 21-year-old Adelina Sau, in a case that has caught the attention of Jakarta and prompted fresh talks on the protection of Indonesian migrant workers’ rights in Malaysia.

“We are very shocked because we know there are sufficient witnesses and evidence against the defendant,” said Iwanshah Wibisono, the Consul General of Indonesia in Penang, during a phone call to The Jakarta Poston Monday.

In February last year, Adelina died in hospital after succumbing to wounds allegedly inflicted by her employer.

Rights advocates alerted the authorities to the East Nusa Tenggara native’s condition after they found her battered and bitten and forced to sleep outside with her employer’s pet Rottweiler for more than a month.

“We are not the only ones surprised; even the [Malaysian] Attorney General is demanding an investigation because this is very unusual,” Iwanshah said, expressing hope that the investigation would yield positive results.

“We have also contacted various Malaysian authorities to […] clarify why the [alleged] abuser was released.”

The Indonesian government is not party to the current legal process, but hopes the prosecutors move to appeal the court ruling.

A legal team is preparing a civil lawsuit against the defendant, pending the outcome of the current criminal case.

“We hope to see results from the investigation soon,” said Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, the Foreign Ministry’s director for overseas citizen protection.

Ambika’s acquittal has sparked anger among rights activists and advocates alike.

The case had attracted public scrutiny and sparked diplomatic tensions between the neighbors, with Jakarta threatening to stop sending Indonesian domestic workers to Malaysia. The government also believes Adelina was a victim of human trafficking.  (tjs)