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Hong Kong: News updates on case of Erwiana - Former employer denies charges in court

Hong Kong: News updates on case of Erwiana - Former employer denies charges in court

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by IDWFED published Jun 10, 2014 12:00 AM
The allegedly abusive former employer of an Indonesian helper has denied all 20 charges against her for abusing her three maids and breaching labour laws - in a case that sparked international concern. Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old mother of two, was arrested in January for seriously wounding Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, her former domestic worker. She faces charges including grievous bodily harm with intent, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages - a total of 20 counts, some of which also relate to her previous employees. Prosecutors have said she turned household items such as a mop, a ruler and a clothes hanger into “weapons” against her workers. Erwiana, who said she suffered months of abuse, left Hong Kong in January and was admitted to hospital in Indonesia, emaciated and in a critical condition.

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HONG KONG -

Woman accused of abusing Indonesian helper Erwiana pleads ‘not guilty’ to all charges - Law Wan-tung denies all charges - totalling 20 counts - including grievous bodily harm and failure to pay wages

Lo Wei | SCMP

The allegedly abusive former employer of an Indonesian helper has denied all 20 charges against her for abusing her three maids and breaching labour laws - in a case that sparked international concern.

Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old mother of two, was arrested in January for seriously wounding Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, her former domestic helper.

She faces charges including grievous bodily harm with intent, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages - a total of 20 counts, some of which also relate to her previous employees.

Prosecutors have said she turned household items such as a mop, a ruler and a clothes hanger into “weapons” against her maids.

Erwiana, who said she suffered months of abuse, left Hong Kong in January and was admitted to hospital in Indonesia, emaciated and in a critical condition.

Before a packed courtroom, Law remained silent and kept her head lowered throughout a brief appearance in the dock, as her defence counsel lodged a plea of not guilty to all the charges.

The case is adjourned to July 10 for pre-trail review. Law’s bail was extended.

The defendant appeared in court today with three women - clad in nearly identical outfits - who could not be identified.

Wearing matching black outfits, sunglasses and face masks - possibly to confuse photographers - they all sat together in the courtroom before the hearing started. They put on black caps as they were leaving the court.

Police officer Chung Chi-ming said outside the District Court that more than a dozen witnesses could be called, including Erwiana, two other maids who were allegedly abused, doctors, and employment agency representatives.

Around 15 members from foreign domestic helper concern groups shouted “Law Wan-tung, shame on you!” on the court steps when Law and her entourage left.

She is accused in 10 charges of kicking, beating and abusing Erwiana, and assaulting two other domestic helpers, Tutik Lestari Ningsih and Nurhasanah.

The other 10 counts of labour-related offences include denying Erwiana’s wages for seven months and failing to grant holidays.

The case highlighted concern over the treatment of domestic helpers in the southern Chinese city, sparking angry protests as well as calls for legislation to provide better protection.

The Asian financial hub is home to nearly 300,000 maids, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines.

The District Court has scheduled 16 days for the trial of Law in which 40 witnesses including the three alleged victims and expert witnesses will give evidence.

Hong Kong woman pleads not guilty to abusing maid in landmark case

Reporting By Nikki Sun and Stefanie McIntyre; Editing by Ron Popeski | Reuters

A Hong Kong woman pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to 20 charges of abusing her Indonesian domestic helper in a landmark case, with pictures of her bruised body prompting international outrage at the treatment of maids in the Asian financial centre.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has denounced her treatment as torture.

Former beautician Law Wan-tung, 44, arrived at the court in sunglasses, a black hat and a surgical mask, surrounded by four female friends dressed in identical clothing, apparently to deflect attention from the defendant.

Law pleaded not guilty to charges including inflicting grievous bodily harm, criminal intimidation and failing to pay wages. The court ordered a pre-trial review to begin on July 10. Within half an hour, she walked out of the court, accompanied by her lawyers and the four women, and was driven away.

Law is accused of assaulting domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and two other maids, also from Indonesia. The charges also include failure to pay her wages.

About 20 domestic helpers and an employer gathered outside the court, holding banners and waving portraits of Erwiana and chanting: "Justice for Erwiana," and "We are not slaves".

Eni Lestari, a spokeswoman for the group Justice for Erwiana, said: "We will fight all the way to the end until Erwiana gets justice. We want to give a lesson to employers. We are not slaves. We are also human."

She said she had received a text message from Erwiana after Law entered her plea, saying: "I feel sad. When will justice be given to me?"

Erwiana left Hong Kong in January for Indonesia, where doctors said burns on her body were caused by boiling water.

Photographs of her battered face and body sparked accusations on the Internet of "modern-day slavery".

While cases of such harsh treatment are rare, Hong Kong's policies on migrant workers have made maids reluctant to report abuse for fear of losing their livelihoods and being deported.

Maids are paid a minimum wage equivalent to about 520 U.S. dollars, an attractive sum for women fleeing poverty in other Asian countries.

In April, Time magazine named Erwiana in its 100 Most Influential People alongside Russian president Vladimir Putin and U.S. singer Beyonce.

‘Tortured’ Indonesian Domestic Helper Ex-Boss Denies Charges in HK Court

Agence France-Presse & Jakarta Globe

A Hong Kong woman accused of torturing her Indonesian domestic helper  in a case that sparked international concern on Tuesday denied all the charges against her.

Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old mother-of-two, was arrested in January for seriously wounding Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, her former domestic servant.

She faces charges including grievous bodily harm with intent, criminal intimidation and failure to pay wages — a total of 20 counts, some of which also relate to her previous employees.

Prosecutors have said she turned household items such as a mop, a ruler and a clothes hanger into “weapons” against her domestic helpers.

Erwiana, who said she suffered months of abuse, left Hong Kong in January and was admitted to hospital in Indonesia, emaciated and in a critical condition.

Before a packed courtroom, Law remained silent and kept her head lowered throughout a brief appearance in the dock, as her defense counsel lodged a plea of not guilty to all the charges. The case was adjourned to July 10.

Police officer Chung Chi-ming said outside the District Court that more than a dozen witnesses could be called, including Erwiana, two other domestic helpers who were allegedly abused, doctors, and employment agency representatives.

The case highlighted concern over the treatment of domestic helpers in the southern Chinese city, sparking angry protests as well as calls for legislation to provide better protection.

The Asian financial hub is home to nearly 300,000 maids, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines.

Amnesty International last year condemned the “slavery-like” conditions faced by some domestic helpers and accused authorities of “inexcusable” inaction.

Time magazine in April named Erwiana as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, hailing her bravery in speaking out against her ex-employer.

Employer denies abusing maids

RTHK & Hong Kong Standard

A woman has pleaded not guilty in the District Court to abusing three domestic helpers.

Law Wan-tung, 44, faces 20 charges, including causing grievous bodily harm and criminal intimidation.

The prosecution says it plans to summon 36 witnesses and expects the trial to last for at least 12 days. A pre-trial review was set for July 10 and the defendant's bail renewed.

The high-profile case came to light when one of the alleged victims - Indonesian maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih - returned to her homeland suffering from serious injuries.

The courtroom was packed with observers, including migrant worker unionists and reporters from international agencies.

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Source: Various Sources

Story Type: News

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