Myanmar widow jailed for throwing hot water on child servant

A Myanmar widow who threw boiling water on a 14-year-old servant leaving her with horrific burns has been jailed for eight years. (AFP)
Updated 19 May 2017
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Myanmar widow jailed for throwing hot water on child servant

YANGON: A Myanmar widow who threw boiling water on a 14-year-old servant leaving her with horrific burns has been jailed for seven years, a rare flicker of justice for the country’s legion of child domestic workers.
Aye Aye Soe was arrested late last year for pouring two flasks of boiling water on the girl — one for each orange she was accused of stealing.
The attack left her victim, Khin Khin Tun, with severe burns across her back.
The widow was also accused of routine physical abuse of Khin Khin Tun’s younger sister, who also worked for her.
The sisters were among tens of thousands of youngsters who support their families through domestic work for the growing urban elite in Myanmar’s booming cities.
But invisible and without any legal protection, they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.
On Thursday a judge in Mawlamyine township, a few hours south of Yangon, jailed Aye Aye Soe for seven years on charges including grievous bodily harm, the victim’s lawyer told AFP.
“The judgment was suitable and fair under the powers of the court,” lawyer Yin Min San said, explaining tougher child abuse and trafficking charges were not brought limiting the judge’s sentencing powers.
In February this year AFP reporters visited Khin Khin Tun who showed the extensive burns to her body, explaining she was abused over three years as a virtual slave for Aye Aye Soe.
The sisters were frequently accused of stealing, beaten with burning wood and forced to hit each other until they bled.
The sentence was met with anger from the local activist who uncovered the abuse.
“The victims are still afraid,” Thi Thi Nwe from the Myitta Sone Zee rights group in Mawlamyine told AFP.
“Our concern is that the defendant will be free within the next six years and she could make trouble for the the victims again... the defendant is powerful here.”
The issue of abuse of child servants came to light last year when two teenage domestic helpers were freed from a tailor shop in Yangon, where they said they spent five years being beaten, stabbed and deprived of sleep and food.
Critics say Myanmar’s legal system is slow and easily bent by powerful interests and cash — leaving poor children unable to access justice.


Indonesia jails former parliament speaker for 15 years over graft

Updated 34 min 27 sec ago
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Indonesia jails former parliament speaker for 15 years over graft

JAKARTA: An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced the former speaker of parliament, Setya Novanto, to 15 years in jail for his role in causing state losses of around $170 million, linked to a national electronic identity card scheme.
The case has shocked Indonesians, already used to large corruption scandals and has reinforced a widely held perception that their parliament, long regarded as riddled with corruption, is a failing institution.
“The defendant is found guilty of conspiring to commit corruption and is sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined 500 million rupiah,” Yanto, the head of a panel of five judges, told the Jakarta court. The fine is equivalent to $36,000.
Novanto would be barred from holding public office for five years after serving his sentence and have to repay $7.3 million he was accused of plundering, added the judge, who goes by one name.
In a session that ran for more than three hours, judges read out dozens of case notes, including descriptions of where the former speaker held meetings to divvy up cash made from a mark-up on a contract for the identity card.
Novanto showed little emotion as the judge read the verdict.
After a quick consultation with his legal team, he told the court he would take some time to consider whether to appeal the sentence.
Novanto is accused of orchestrating a scheme to steal $173 million, or almost 40 percent of the entire budget for a government contract for the national identity card.
Prosecutors, who had questioned 80 witnesses in the case, had sought a jail term of at least 16 years for the former speaker.
Novanto, who had been implicated in five graft scandals since the 1990s but never convicted, was detained by investigators last November after repeatedly missing summonses for questioning over the case, saying he needed heart surgery.
Indonesians have to contend with high levels of graft in many areas of their lives and the country placed 96th among 180 countries in Transparency International’s annual corruption perceptions index last year, on par with Colombia and Thailand.