A Hong Kong mother who is accused of brutally beating her Indonesian maids with mops and clothes hangers has been released on bail.
The mother of two who allegedly punched her maids, beat them with mops, and threatened to kill their relatives was released on bail Wednesday after she was formally charged in the case that has made headlines around the world.
Law Wan-tung — a former beautician — was arrested at the airport on Monday before she boarded a flight to Thailand, following the allegations brought forth by her Indonesian maid.
The case has put the spotlight squarely, yet again, on the treatment of domestic maids in Hong Kong.
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih, 23, is currently in a hospital in Indonesia after she says she suffered months of abuse from the 44-year-old woman in Hong Kong.
— ST Foreign Desk (@STForeignDesk) January 21, 2014
Law, dressed in a black jacket, appeared calm as the charges, including those of wounding, common assault, and criminal intimidation were read out in court.
The judge released the woman on bail of HK$1 million (about $129,000), despite pleas from the prosecutor in the case to keep her in custody given the severity of the alleged abuse over a number of years, and the risk of her fleeing Hong Kong.
The next hearing is scheduled for March 25.
On Sunday, several thousand rallied in Hong Kong to demand justice for Sulistyaningsih.
Eni Lestari, head of the International Migrants Alliance, said during the protest that they want a speedy investigation into the abuse case.
— The Straits Times (@STcom) January 19, 2014
The arrest follows a separate complaint by another maid in Hong Kong, who had been employed by the same woman, according to some reports.
During the hearing, prosecutors described how Law had mistreated several woman under her employ.
“She began hitting her non-stop, she scratched her, slapped her, and pushed her head against the wall and punched her nose and teeth,” the prosecutor said.
Hong Kong officials investigating the case left for Indonesia on Monday to interview Sulistyaningsih, who is in stable condition in a hospital in central Java.
The 23-year-old was reportedly beaten so badly that she was left in critical condition when she was admitted to the hospital, and had difficulty walking last week.
A spokesman from the hospital on Java Island told Reuters news agency on Sunday that her injuries were extensive, but that her condition had stabilized.
No plea was entered, but defense lawyer Patrick Wong said Law had cooperated fully with police, had no criminal background, and there was no clear evidence of abuse except the claims made by the maids.
Hong Kong residents hire around 300,00 domestic workers, mostly from Indonesia and Philippines.