Indonesia 'shocked' by Malaysian's acquittal in maid's death

Indonesia's government says it was shocked by Malaysia's acquittal of a woman charged with the death of her Indonesian maid, in case that has sparked public outrage over alleged abuse.

Adelina Lisao, 26, was rescued in February 2018 from a house in northern Malaysia where she was made to sleep on the porch with the family dog. Police said she had bruises and infected wounds on her body and died the next day of multiple organ failure.

Her employer, S. Ambika, 60, was charged with murder. Ambika was acquitted by the High Court last week after prosecutors abruptly dropped the charge without explanation. The acquittal also sparked anger among Malaysian rights groups and a lawmaker involved in rescuing Lisao.

Lalu Muhammad Iqbal, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry's director of protection for Indonesian citizens overseas, said in a statement Monday that Indonesia's government was "shocked" and would continue to press for justice for Lisao.

He said evidence in the case was "very strong" and a number of key witnesses didn't have a chance to testify because of the acquittal.

"The Foreign Ministry and Indonesian Consulate General in Penang will continue to oversee the legal process of this case to ensure Adelina Lisao gets justice," he said.

Penang lawmaker Steven Sim, who helped rescue Lisao after his office was alerted to her case, called the acquittal "tragic."

Sim, who is now deputy youth and sports minister, said in a statement over the weekend that he sought clarification from the attorney general, who promised to personally investigate the case.

"Malaysia needs better law to protect migrant workers" and ensure such tragedies do not recur, Sim added.

Rights group Tenaganita demanded justice for Lisao.

"She was a young woman made to work for two years without pay. She was a young woman whose body was brutalized. Her death has to mean something. Why have our courts failed her? Why has the Malaysian government failed her? Where is justice for Adelina?" it said in a statement.

Malaysian households employ more than 200,000 Indonesian maids. A string of high-profile abuse cases, including deaths, led Indonesia to ban its women from working in Malaysia in 2009 but the ban was lifted three years later after the two countries agreed on better protection.