An Indonesian migrant working in Malaysia, Walfrida Soik from East Nusa Tenggara, has narrowly escaped the death sentence.
The Kota Bharu High Court in Malaysia ruled Tuesday to acquit Walfrida of murder charges, sparing her from the death penalty, because she suffers from a mental illness.
The court ordered Walfrida to be treated at Permai Johor Bharu Mental Hospital until she was deemed eligible for a complete pardon from the Sultan of Kelantan.
Indonesian ambassador to Malaysia, Herman Prayitno, welcomed the verdict and lauded the involvement of different parties that assisted with Walfrida’s defense.
To speed up the legal process, Herman said he would send a request for remission to the Sultan of Kelantan.
“This case is a reminder to us of the importance of monitoring the practice of sending illegal migrant workers [overseas],” Herman said in a press release, as quoted by tribunnew.com Tuesday.
She was an undocumented migrant worker as she was still a minor when she was sent to Malaysia.
Walfrida faced the death penalty for murdering her employer’s relative in December 2010. Her murder trial stirred passions on workers rights.
Walfrida was put on trial in northern Kelantan state for allegedly killing her employer, a 60-year-old Chinese Malaysian woman who suffered from Parkinson’s disease.
She was accused of stabbing the woman 42 times.
Her defence argued that she was a minor at the time, lured by labour traffickers with false promises, whose employer abused her.
The trial was keenly watched in Indonesia, where cases of abuse and exploitation prompted Jakarta to officially ban women taking domestic work in more affluent Malaysia in 2009 for more than two years.
An estimated two million Indonesians toil in plantation, construction, factory and domestic work, both legally and illegally, in Malaysia, which relies on poor foreigners to perform less appealing work.
Allegations of abuse against foreign labourers have included overwork, beatings, sexual abuse, even torture.