Erwiana allowed to leave consulate after demonstration

Police guard domestic worker at consulate; she wants to stay at shelter

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 1:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 10:42am

Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, the Indonesian domestic worker allegedly tortured by her employer, was forced to stay inside the Indonesian consulate at Causeway Bay under police guard like a "hostage", according to about 50 supporters who massed outside the building yesterday.

By late last night, Erwiana had been allowed out and was in the care of the Mission for Migrant Workers (MFMW).

"We met her on [Monday] night and she said she wanted to leave and stay with her friends," said Sringatin, spokeswoman for the Justice for Erwiana campaign and the MFMW.

"She did not feel comfortable with the police watching her round the clock."

A police spokesman said the arrangement was to ensure Erwiana's safety, and that the force had obtained her approval before she returned to Hong Kong from Indonesia.

Erwiana, 23, touched down on Monday to provide evidence in a trial against her former employer, Law Wan-tung.

Law, 44, is accused of abusing the helper during the eight months she was in her employ last year.

The housewife is charged with one count each of causing grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, and common assault, as well as four counts of criminal intimidation against three domestic helpers. The case has been adjourned to April 29 and she has been released on bail.

Erwiana, flanked by police officers, met lawyer Melville Boase at his law firm in Wan Chai at around noon yesterday, before visiting the Kowloon West regional police headquarters.

The day before, she was taken to the consulate upon arrival, together with her father, two friends and a lawyer, who had all flown to the city with her, Sringatin said.

It was her wish to meet friends and stay at a shelter run by the MFMW, Sringatin added.

"Erwiana said the consulate told her this arrangement was in place in order to protect her. She was so upset that she has not eaten anything since she returned to Hong Kong. She wanted to have breakfast outside and even that was not allowed."

Consul Rafail Walangitan said the police had requested that she stay inside the consulate.

"We have of course listened to what Erwiana said. But the request was made by the police so let's let the police decide."

Police said they were happy to "make further arrangements", providing these did not affect Erwiana's safety.