Indonesian maid to return to Hong Kong to help torture probe

HONG KONG - An Indonesian maid allegedly tortured by her Hong Kong employer will return to the city next week for a medical examination to help bolster the investigation in the case that sparked angry protests, officials said on Friday.

Ms Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 23, was admitted to hospital in Sragen, on Indonesia's main island of Java, in critical condition after returning from Hong Kong in January where she allegedly suffered months of abuse.

Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old Hong Kong mother of two, has been charged with causing grievous bodily harm to Ms Sulistyaningsih, who is set to arrive back in Hong Kong on Monday.

Law's trial was due to resume last week but was adjourned to April 29, with officials awaiting the medical records from Indonesia. Prosecutors have alleged that Law turned household items such as a mop, a ruler and a clothes hanger into "weapons" against Ms Sulistyaningsih.

"Police requested the victim of a wounding case, reported to police on Jan 12, to return to Hong Kong for follow-up arrangement related to the prosecution," police said in a statement without elaborating further.

A spokesman for Hong Kong-based Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body said Ms Sulistyaningsih was "coming over upon the (invitation) of the Hong Kong police for her to undergo some medical examination".

"She'll be here only for about a week," spokesman Eman Villanueva told AFP.

Mr Gatot Abdullah Mansyur, head of the Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers, said the results of her medical examination will be used in the trial of her former employer.

"We are glad that Hong Kong is pursuing this and our hope is that justice will be served, the law will be enforced," he told AFP. "This is the hope of all Indonesians. And it's not just for us - it is for all of those working in Hong Kong."

Ms Sulistyaningsih's ordeal had sparked international concern over the rights of domestic helpers in the southern Chinese city, with thousands marching to call for justice for abused maids.

Law, who was arrested at Hong Kong airport in January while attempting to board a flight to Thailand, was also charged with common assault and four counts of criminal intimidation - charges related either to Ms Sulistyaningsih or to her two previous Indonesian domestic helpers.

The Asian financial hub is home to nearly 300,000 maids, mainly from Indonesia and the Philippines, and criticism from rights groups over their treatment is growing.

In September, a Hong Kong couple were jailed for savagely beating their Indonesian domestic helper, including burning her with an iron and hitting her with a bicycle chain.

Amnesty International in November condemned the "slavery-like" conditions faced by thousands of Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong and accused authorities of "inexcusable" inaction.