We’ll continue to seek justice for Adelina, says Indonesian official after court decision

Adelina Lisao was found dead outside her employer’s home in Penang, with her head and face swollen and covered in wounds in February 2018. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: The consul-general of Indonesia in Penang expressed dissatisfaction with the decision of the Court of Appeal today to uphold the acquittal of Ambika MA Shan who was charged with murdering her Indonesian maid two years ago.

“We respect 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,” Bambang Suharto said in a statement to FMT.

Bambang said they would wait for the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to respond to the decision within 10 days.

“We believe the AGC shares the same vision to find justice for the late Adelina Lisao,” he said, referring to the deceased.

“The Indonesian government will continue its efforts to find justice for Adelina and her family.”

Bambang Suharto.

Adelina was found dead outside her employer’s home in Penang, with her head and face swollen and covered in wounds in February 2018.

The case had triggered headlines and diplomatic tensions between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Ambika, her employer, was charged with murdering the 26-year-old domestic worker, who succumbed to multiple organ failure following the alleged abuse at their house in Bukit Mertajam.

On April 19, 2019, the High Court in Penang granted Ambika a full acquittal on the murder charge after the deputy public prosecutor requested a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

Today, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision to acquit Ambika, after a three-member bench chaired by Yaacob Md Sam said there was no appealable error by trial judge Akhtar Tahir in setting her free under Section 254(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

“We are satisfied that the judge was right in exercising his power to acquit the accused,” he said in dismissing the prosecution’s appeal. Sitting with Yaacob were Abu Bakar Jais and Nordin Hassan.

Meanwhile, Tenaganita’s Glorene Das hoped prosecutors would charge Ambika again, but under Section 304A of the Penal Code.

Under Section 304A, individuals who cause the death of any person (by doing any rash or negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide) shall be punished with imprisonment for up to two years or fined, or both.

“Adelina was so brutally and severely abused that her body could only succumb to death. She was found with severe injuries on her head and face, and infected wounds on her hands and legs.

“Tenaganita strongly believes that the only efficient way to eliminate serious abuse and exploitation towards any person is for perpetrators to be prosecuted and jailed for a long period of time.

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

Alex Ong, an activist with Migrant CARE, said the acquittal of Ambika was a “miscarriage of justice”, as it was due to technical and procedural processes related to problems in the investigation.

Adrian Pereira, from the North South Initiative, said the decision showed Malaysia continued to have weak regulations and enforcement on the rights of domestic workers.

“Tragedies like this case will continue to happen. Malaysia clearly lacks the moral spine to fix this as the problem has existed for the past 30 years. We hope the government immediately comes up with legally enforceable regulations for domestic workers,” he said.