Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Anger as Malaysian cleared of murdering her maid

Anger as Malaysian cleared of murdering her maid

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Petronela Koa cries next to the coffin containing her niece, Adelina Sau, an Indonesian domestic helper who died in Malaysia after allegedly being abused by her employer. AFP

Anger as Malaysian cleared of murdering her maid

A MALAYSIAN woman has reportedly been cleared of murdering her Indonesian maid, who was allegedly tortured and forced to sleep outside with a dog, with activists on Monday criticising the “shocking” decision.

Adelina Sau died in February last year after being found outside her employer’s home on the northern Malaysian island of Penang, with her head and face swollen and covered in wounds.

Many Indonesian maids work in more affluent Malaysia and tales of abuse are common, but the horrific nature of Sau’s case generated headlines and sparked diplomatic tensions between the neighbours.

Her employer, S Ambika, was charged with murder – an offence that carries a mandatory death sentence in Malaysia – shortly after the 21-year-old was rescued and died in hospital.

But the High Court in Penang dropped the murder charge against her last week, local media reported, without saying why.

‘Far from justice’

Prominent Malaysian human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen called the decision “shocking and unacceptable”.

“This was one of the most public and harrowing abuse cases ever recorded and yet the attorney-general’s chambers somehow saw fit to drop the charge,” said Paulsen, a member of the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights.

Steven Sim, an MP from the area where Sau died, said the court decision was “as tragic as the death of Adelina”.

Sim said he had contacted the attorney-general, Tommy Thomas, who had vowed to look into the case.

In Indonesia, Wahyu Susilo, executive director of NGO Migrant Care, condemned the acquittal and described it as “far from justice”.

He said the employer may have been cleared due to a failure to get key witnesses, such as Sau’s parents, to testify at the trial, and called on Jakarta to lodge a protest.

Her murder caused anger in Indonesia, with the foreign minister branding it unacceptable.

Allegations of maid abuse, ranging from overwork to beatings and sex attacks, are a regular diplomatic flashpoint between the Southeast Asian neighbours.

MOST VIEWED

  • Sihanoukville to begin road project

    The government will spend $200 million to improve Sihanoukville’s infrastructure. The eight-month project will involve the rebuilding of 34 streets with a total of more than 84km. Pal Chandara, the secretary of state and spokesman for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, told The Post

  • Artefact is seized from American auctioneers

    Cambodian and US archaeologists on Thursday discussed the formalities and procedures of returning to Cambodia an artefact which was recently seized by US Homeland Security Investigators (HSI) from an auction house in San Francisco. On Monday, the HSI said US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE),

  • Bodhisattva statue unearthed

    The Apsara National Authority technical team uncovered a sandstone statue of a Bodhisattva while carrying out excavation work at the east entrance of the Ta Nei temple on October 8. The team was trying to find the temple’s roof stone, which had fallen into a

  • World Bank: Challenges facing the Kingdom

    Cambodia’s economy currently faces challenges including credit growth in the construction and real estate sectors, rising indebtedness and the possible withdrawal of the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBA) agreement, said the World Bank Group’s latest forecast report on the Asia-Pacific economies. The