Nothing sinister, lawyer says after maid’s boss cleared of murder

Lawyer Anbananthan Yathiraju.

GEORGE TOWN: The lawyer of the woman who was recently cleared of murdering Indonesian maid Adelina Lisao today defended his client’s acquittal, saying there was “nothing sinister” about it.

Anbananthan Yathiraju told FMT the case against Ambika MA Shan, 61, was likely dropped by the prosecutor following a representation he had made before the trial began.

He said the representation included the hospital case note where Adelina, by her own admission, told the Bukit Mertajam Hospital staff that she had not been abused.

Adelina also told the hospital staff that she had sustained injuries after coming into contact with “chemicals” while cleaning the toilet.

Ambika was acquitted of murdering Adelina at the High Court on April 18, after prosecutors asked for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA).

She had been detained since Feb 21 last year.

Her acquittal sparked a backlash from local civic groups as well as Indonesia, which said Ambika’s release meant Adelina had been denied justice.

But Anbananthan said a forensic expert who testified during the trial said he could not find any trace of chemicals or acid on Adelina. He said a post-mortem showed that the maid had died from multiple organ failure.

He added that statements by the prosecution’s witness, including Ambika’s neighbour and a journalist who had tipped off authorities regarding Adelina’s condition, were hearsay evidence.

He said when the case against Ambika resumed on April 18, the prosecutors had asked the High Court for a DNAA ruling. He said he then asked the court to consider acquitting her, given her age and poor health.

“After hearing submissions from both parties, the judge exercised his discretion under Section 254(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code and acquitted and discharged the accused.

“There is nothing sinister about the acquittal. The accused was acquitted in accordance with the law.”

Adelina’s squalid living conditions were first noticed by a concerned neighbour.

The neighbour then alerted a journalist on Facebook on the matter. Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim later sent his team to investigate.

Adelina was found with pus-filled hands and legs and she could barely walk. Her wounds appeared to be not healing. She was also allegedly forced to sleep on the porch with a dog.

Her employers took her to the Bukit Mertajam Hospital at the urging of Sim’s team.

She died after spending a night at the hospital.