Indonesia deplores release of HK abused maid's suspected torturer

JAKARTA - The government said Friday it regretted a Hong Kong judge's decision to release on bail the 44-year-old Law Wantung, the suspected torturer of Indonesian worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih.

Tatang Budie Utama Razak, the Foreign Ministry's director for legal aid and protection of Indonesian nationals overseas, however, expressed optimism that the Hong Kong court would be able to bring the suspect to justice.

"The judicial system in Hong Kong enables suspects to be released on bail. It does not necessarily mean that [Law] is now completely free," he said in Jakarta.

A district court in Hong Kong released Law, a Hong Kong mother of two, on bail of HK$1 million (S$165,000) on Wednesday, despite calls from the prosecutor to keep her in custody given the severity of the suspected abuse over many years, Reuters reported.

The court previously heard that she had punched her maids including the 23-year-old Erwiana, beat them with mops and threatened to kill their relatives.

The Hong Kong Police arrested the former beautician at the airport on Monday before she boarded a flight to Thailand. Since then she has been jeered as a monster on trips between the police station and her home.

Outspoken lawmaker Eva Kusuma Sundari also deeply regretted Law's release, saying that the judge's decision could result in the suspect fleeing Hong Kong or even repeating her crimes.

"Erwiana's case is also a wake-up call for the government to seriously improve the protection for our workers overseas," she said.

Law has been slapped with multiple charges, including common assault and criminal intimidation.

The prosecutor described how Law had abused Erwiana, who is now recovering from her injuries in a hospital in Sragen, Central Java.

"She began hitting her non-stop, she scratched her, slapped her and pushed her head against the wall and punched her nose and teeth," the prosecutor said.

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