A Malaysian couple convicted of murder for the 2012 death of their Cambodian maid was sentenced to death by hanging by Malaysia’s Court of Appeal on Friday, according to a media report.
The Straits Times, citing the Malay Mail Online, reported on Saturday that the Appeal Court had changed the 2013 manslaughter convictions against Soh Chew Tong and his wife, Chin Chui Ling, to murder, a more serious charge that carries a death sentence.
The couple had been found guilty of the 2012 death of their maid, Mey Sichan, 23, whose severely underweight body was found in their home and was covered in dozens of lacerations and bruises.
According to the news report, the cause of death was determined to be an acute inflammation of the inner lining of the stomach due to a perforated gastric ulcer associated with abuse and neglect, which was likely made worse by a lack of food.
It added that the couple had instructed their lawyer to appeal Friday’s decision to the Federal Court.
Chum Sounry, spokesman for Cambodia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said yesterday that he did not know about Friday’s sentence and declined to comment.
Chuop Narath, deputy director of the Labor Ministry’s labor department, said he had read about the court decision in the media. He said he appreciated the Malaysian government’s prosecution of the couple but declined to comment on the death sentence.
In 2011, Prime Minister Hun Sen put an indefinite ban on sending maids to Malaysia amid mounting evidence that the Cambodians already there were being subject to abuse, debt bondage and sexual violence.
In March, the Labor Ministry said Cambodia had approved a new memorandum of understanding that would lift the ban and put new measures in place to better protect the maids and that it was waiting for Malaysia to sign off.
Yesterday, Mr. Narath said Malaysia had approved the memorandum and that the ban would be lifted soon.
“It will be signed soon, at the end of this year. We just have to arrange the schedule for the two ministers to sign,” he said, declining to give details about the deal until it was finalized.