Justice for Erwiana served as court rules former employer guilty

Justice for Erwiana served as court rules former employer guilty

The former employer of Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih was convicted of a raft of assault charges at the District Court this morning

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Erwiana Sulistyaningsih (Centre) arriving at the Wan Chai District Court to begin giving evidence against her former employer who abused and totured Erwiana.
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih (Centre) arriving at the Wan Chai District Court to begin giving evidence against her former employer who abused and totured Erwiana.
Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

Employer Law Wan-tung, 44, was found guilty of 18 of 20 charges, bringing an end to the 16-day high-profile abuse trial that put the plight of foreign domestic workers in the city under the international spotlight.

Abused Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih said she can forgive, but she hasn’t yet managed to forget

Meeting with the press after her employer was convicted for a raft of assault charges at the District Court in Wanchai, yesterday morning, Erwiana said “I can forgive Law Wan-tung but justice must be upheld,” 

Judge Amanda Woodcock said she found Erwiana credible, and just a “simple village girl”.

She found Erwiana did not frame her employer and have a hidden financial agenda as Law’s lawyer Graham Harris SC alleged.

The court ruled that Law had threatened to kill Erwiana and her family. Law told the maid that her husband was rich and had lots of connections in Indonesia. She made the threats to stop the maid from reporting her.

“The fact that she believed [Law would kill her parents] shows that she is a simple timid girl,” Woodcock said.

Protesters and supporters of Erwiana fight for justice for the abused domestic helper. Photo: Sam Tsang/SCMP

The more Erwiana was abused the more subservient she became, Woodcock suggested, while this boosted Law’s confidence to continue with the assaults.

She also said Law did not bring Erwiana to the doctor, even though the maid suffered from severe dermatitis, because the employer was afraid that the maid’s poor condition would be exposed.

Law looked down the whole time as the verdict was handed down.

Erwiana, clad in an orange jacket, sat on the last row of the public gallery and smiled when she heard the verdict.

The judge, however, found that Erwiana’s nose was not broken as she claimed so she convicted the employer of a lesser charge of assault occasioning bodily harm instead of the original inflicting grievous bodily harm.

She also found the prosecution failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Law assaulted and criminally intimidated another maid, Nurhasanah. She acquitted Law of two charges.

The court imposed an order for Law to pay Erwiana some HK$28,800, the salary she owed the maid.

Woodcock sought two reports to study Law’s mental state and adjourned the case to February 27 for mitigation and sentence.

Eric Chung Chi-ming, police chief inspector of Kwun Tong district, said the court’s decision showed that justice had been done.

"I believe this case will serve as a deterrent [against similar abuses]. In Hong Kong, everyone is protected by law," said Chung, who flew to Indonesia to look into the case last year.

David Cameron, detective superintendent of Kwun Tong district, said: “It shows that if you come forward, then the law will be used to protect you.”

Erwiana thanked her supporters outside the court.

"Thank you very much for your support," she said. She will meet the press again this afternoon.

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