Woman who tortured Indonesian domestic helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih released from prison despite serving less than two-thirds of her sentence
- Law Wan-tung was jailed for six years in February 2015 over abuse that made global headlines and put working conditions of foreign helpers in Hong Kong under spotlight
- Justice department contacted Lo Wu Correctional Institution as they continue to pursue Law for HK$200,000 over another failed legal action
A Hong Kong employer who made global headlines for torturing Indonesian domestic worker Erwiana Sulistyaningsih has been released early from prison, a court heard on Wednesday.
Yvonne Cheung, a lawyer from the justice department that is pursuing Law Wan-tung for HK$200,000 over another failed legal action, told the High Court they had not been able to “ascertain her whereabouts”.
Law was jailed for six years and fined HK$15,000 in February 2015 after being found guilty of assaulting Erwiana and another Indonesian helper, Tutik Lestari Ningsih, while they were in her employment.
Prison inmates can earn a one-third deduction on their sentence through good behaviour, but it remains unclear why Law served less than four years behind bars.
“She was released a few months ago,” Cheung said, adding the department had found out when they called the Lo Wu Correctional Institution, where Law had been jailed.
A source close to the matter said Law was let out under an early release scheme, six months before the end of her sentence. She would be subject to a supervision order until her jail term expired.
A Correctional Services Department’s spokesman said it would not comment on the case.
“To protect individual privacy, we cannot disclose personal data of person in custody,” she said.
The abuse that took place from 2013 to 2014 made world news and Erwiana’s bedridden pictures, featuring her swollen face, put the working conditions of foreign helpers in Hong Kong under the spotlight.
Soon after she was jailed in 2015, Law lodged a judicial review against the Legal Aid Department, after it refused to grant her financial aid to appeal against her convictions.
After her judicial review failed, Law was ordered by the High Court to pay the Department of Justice’s HK$200,000 in legal costs, with a further order she should pay using her property and other assets after she claimed her bank balances were in the red.
On Wednesday, Law’s lawyer Ching Ming-yu said she would appeal against the second court order and had sought an adjournment, a move vehemently opposed by the Department of Justice’s lawyer.
Madam Justice Bebe Chu Pui-ying rejected Ching’s request, saying Law had been given sufficient time to prepare for her appeal, yet she had not acted since June.
“If she was released a few months ago, she would have sufficient time to contact her lawyer,” Chu said, quashing her appeal.
During the earlier trial, the District Court heard Law had punched Erwiana so hard her incisor teeth were fractured. Law also stripped her in the bathroom of her Tseung Kwan O flat and splashed her with cold water while pointing a fan at her.
On another occasion, Law twisted a metal tube from a vacuum cleaner inside her mouth, causing cuts to her lips.
For the injuries, Erwiana was awarded HK$809,430 in damages last year to be paid by Law. Tutik Lestari Ningsih was to be paid HK$170,000, another court ruled in February.
Erwiana told the Post Law had yet to pay her even though the order was made in December last year.