Australian, Briton on trial over Bali policeman murder

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 7:40pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2016, 7:40pm

An Australian woman and her British boyfriend went on trial Wednesday accused of beating a policeman to death on a popular beach on the Indonesian resort island of Bali.

David Taylor and Sara Connor appeared separately in court accused of murdering Balinese policeman Wayan Sudarsa, whose battered body was found on Kuta beach in August. They face up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.

Taylor has admitted hitting the officer during a brawl using objects including a smashed beer bottle after accusing him of stealing Connor’s handbag but denies intentionally killing him.

Connor has maintained her innocence, saying that she only tried to pull Taylor and Sudarsa apart as they were fighting, and tearfully denied having a hand in the murder as the trial got under way.

“I’m innocent, I’m innocent,” she insisted, in a courtroom in the Balinese capital Denpasar packed out with local and foreign journalists.

Connor’s lawyer Erwin Siregar said that he planned to file an objection at the next hearing to the accusations against her, saying that she should instead face a lesser charge of destroying evidence related to the crime.

She earlier admitted to disposing of Sudarsa’s identity cards after they were removed from his body.

“We object to the indictment because it’s not precise, not clear, not complete,” Siregar said.

Taylor appeared in a separate hearing in the same court before Connor. His lawyer said he would not file a formal objection to the charges although his legal team can challenge the accusations during the trial.

Police say he flew into a rage and hit the policeman repeatedly over the head with a beer bottle, although his defence team have said he was first pushed by the officer.

The pair are facing charges of murder, assault and torture.

After the murder, the couple fled the beach, but were later tracked down after witnesses reported the incident to police.

Bali, a pocket of Hinduism in Muslim-majority Indonesia, is a popular tourist destination known for its tropical climate and palm-fringed beaches.

Petty crime is common but murders are rare.