A Hong Kong woman has been found guilty of beating and starving her Indonesian maid while keeping her prisoner for months and not paying her.
Law Wan-tung, a 44-year-old mother of two, was convicted on 18 of 20 counts in a packed courtroom, French news agency AFP reported Tuesday.
The verdict was met with cheers by activists and supporters of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, a former domestic helper who has become the face of a campaign for improved workers’ rights in Hong Kong.
Judge Amanda Woodcock said she had no doubt Law did assault and threaten Sulistyaningsih as charged.
“She was, for want of a better word, a prisoner on those premises,” she said.
Sulistyaningsih had told the judge she had been tortured.
“She was completely isolated, and [this] helps explain why this abuse could go on for so long without her retaliating or anyone knowing,” Woodcock said.
“When Erwiana left Hong Kong she was a shadow of her former self.”
Pictures of the injuries sustained by Sulistyaningsih, who was admitted to hospital in her home country emaciated and in a critical condition, fueled anger in Indonesia and shocked Hong Kong.
Law lowered her head but appeared to be calm when the verdict was announced.
The only two counts she escaped were related to her treatment of another domestic worker which she denied. Law faces sentencing on Feb. 27.
A jubilant Sulistyaningsih, clad in a black t-shirt with her face and the word “justice” emblazoned on it, hugged supporters after the decision was handed down.
“I am very happy because I got justice from Hong Kong,” she said outside the courthouse.
During the six-week trial, prosecutors said Law turned household items such as a mop, a ruler and a clothes hanger into “weapons” against her maids.
Sulistyaningsih described in vivid detail how she was “tortured”, starved, beaten and ritually humiliated by Law, with prosecutors saying she was treated as an “unpaid slave”.
She said she lived for months on nothing but bread and rice, sleeping only four hours a day and being so badly beaten she was knocked unconscious.
Law’s defence accused the former maid and another two domestic helpers involved in the case of being “opportunistic”, saying their evidence showed the injuries could have been caused by accidents.
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