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Hong Kong courts

Hong Kong boss jailed for torturing domestic helper Erwiana back in court to face another Indonesian abuse victim

Tutik Lestari Ningsih seeks HK$170,000 in damages from local beautician Law Wan-tung over abuse she suffered back in 2010 and 2011

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 7:02am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 February, 2018, 7:01am

The Hong Kong employer jailed for torturing Erwiana Sulistyaningsih returned to court on Friday to face another domestic helper she abused, with the plaintiff demanding HK$170,000 in damages for assault and 346 days she was held captive.

Indonesian Tutik Lestari Ningsih initiated civil proceedings against Law Wan-tung in the District Court back in 2015, shortly after the same court found the Hong Kong beautician guilty in a criminal trial of assaulting and intimidating her.

Tutik’s ordeal took place prior to the abuse of Erwiana, whose case shocked the city in 2014 when the domestic helper revealed she had been subjected to seven months of abuse at the hands of Law.

The shocking trial over Erwiana’s case ended with Law being jailed for six years, as well as a successful civil claim for HK$809,430 (US$103,480) in damages last year.

Back in the District Court on Friday, Tutik recounted how she had been assaulted and imprisoned in Law’s Tai Kok Tsui flat during her time employed by her from April 19, 2010 to March 30, 2011.

She recalled how Law would beat her with instruments such as a ruler, cleaning cloth and feather duster – or with her bare hands. The punishments would be meted out for falling asleep during work hours or not cleaning Law’s home properly.

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Tutik also recalled that she had not been permitted to leave the flat on her own and had been deprived of contact with the outside world, with no holidays, phone or internet access.

“[Law] threatened to kill me and my family if I told anyone about the abuse,” Tutik said through an interpreter.

By December 2010 she had wanted to resign as she could not stand working for Law any more, she said. But she stayed on the job because Law would become angry and beat her in response to her attempts to broach the subject.

“I got scared and did not dare raise this issue again,” Tutik said.

Her legal counsel, Tony Ko, said the case against Law was aggravated by the beautician’s breach of trust as an employer as well as her horrific conduct, which persisted for nearly a year and left a lasting impact on her victim.

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But defence lawyer Ching Ming-yu argued that Tutik was fabricating evidence in an attempt to strengthen her civil claim, as she had not previously disclosed some of the abuse mentioned on Friday.

He also pointed out that his client had offered medicine to treat Tutik’s injuries, and celebrated her birthday with her in 2011.

Watch: ‘I can forgive Law Wan-tung but justice must be upheld,’ says Indonesian helper Erwiana Sulistyaningsih

Tutik retorted that she had previously not been asked to explain all of the incidents of abuse in detail.

Regarding her birthday celebration, she said: “[Law] asked me to take a picture with the cake and then took the cake away.”

Tutik has now fully recovered from her physical injuries.

District Court judge Liu Man-kin will hear closing submissions on Wednesday.