• Tue
  • Jul 22, 2014
  • Updated: 6:02pm
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih
NewsHong Kong
CRIME

Hong Kong woman accused of abusing, torturing maids detained at airport on way to Thailand

Woman intercepted as she tried to take a flight to Thailand is accused of wounding two helpers

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 January, 2014, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2014, 2:06pm

A woman accused of wounding two Indonesian domestic helpers - including one who says she suffered prolonged torture - was in police custody last night after being arrested at the airport.

Lo Wan-tung, 44, was intercepted at the Immigration Department counter as she sought to take a flight to Thailand at about 4pm yesterday.

The arrest came amid widespread outrage at the alleged treatment of Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, who is recovering in hospital in Java from multiple injuries. Erwiana said she was "very happy" to learn of the arrest.

Watch: Hong Kong police arrest employer of 'tortured' Indonesian maid

Senior Inspector Chan Wai-man said Lo was held after another Indonesian maid, Susi, 31, complained that Lo had also beaten her. The case, classified as wounding, has been combined with the case of Erwiana.

Chan said Lo, accompanied by a female friend, looked calm when immigration officers stopped her. He said the housewife had no record of criminal charges or mental illness.

Hours after the arrest, four crime-squad officers arrived in Sragen city, Java, where Erwiana is in hospital. The investigation team, led by Chief Inspector Chung Chi-ming of Kwun Tong district crime squad, left for Indonesia with two labour officers and three consulate staff yesterday.

Her Indonesian doctor said she was unable to walk and had been beaten on the head for at least six months.

A police spokesman said officers had talked to Erwiana, 23, and that she had filed a report. She was willing to return to Hong Kong to testify, he said, and would make a statement today. Her family said she planned to return to sue the government.

"Yes, definitely we will continue to press for a lawsuit," her father, Rohmad Saputro, said. "We wanted the government to protect Erwiana."

Lo, wearing sunglasses under a hood, was taken from the airport police station on Lantau to Tseung Kwan O police station at about 7.45pm. She was still being questioned last night.

Lo, her husband and two teenage children were understood to have moved out of their flat at Beverly Gardens in Tseung Kwan O after the alleged torture came to light on January 12. Susi told police on Sunday she was abused in a Tai Kok Tsui flat between April 2010 and March 2011.

Migrant workers groups want a change in the rules governing foreign maids, including one that they live with their employers. Labour minister Matthew Cheung Kin-chung has rejected calls to abolish the live-in rule. But Commissioner for Labour Cheuk Wing-hing said changes were being considered to the licences of maid agencies requiring them to meet the helpers regularly to check their conditions.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said Hong Kong would not tolerate physical violence or psychological harm to anyone.

Additional reporting by Shirley Zhao

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