News World Jessica Wongso gets 20 years for cyanide murder

Jessica Wongso gets 20 years for cyanide murder

Jessica Wongso
Jessica Wongso was sentenced to 20 years in an Indonesian jail. Photo: EPA
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Australian resident Jessica Kumala Wongso was stony-faced amid cheers and clapping as she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering her friend with a cyanide-laced coffee.

“I don’t accept this decision, ” she told the Jakarta Court on Thursday.

“It’s not fair and very one-sided. More than this, I leave it all to the lawyers.”

Outside the court, the family of 27-year-old Wayan Mirna Salihin, who had studied with Wongso in Sydney, expressed relief.

“I believe Mirna is now smiling from above,” her twin sister Made Sandy Salihin told reporters.

Their father Edi Dermawan Salihin said: “God shows who is the wicked, who is evil. Today it is proven.”

Thursday’s verdict marks the end of a trial that has dominated the Indonesian press, with Wongso’s background, bodily expressions and life becoming the subject of endless talk shows.

During the marathon session, the three Jakarta judges made findings on the “emotional baggage” they said led Wongso to return to Jakarta last December after living in Australia for several years.

“Because of the defendant’s personal problem in Australia which were so horrifying … (she) decided to come back to Indonesia,” Judge Binsar Gultom said.

Wongso, the trial had heard, was due to face Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court in 2016 over charges of high-range drink driving as well as an AVO application made by her ex-partner Australian man Patrick O’Connor.

Jessica Wongso
Jessica Wongso was accused of slipping cyanide into her friend’s iced coffee. Photo: AAP

Throughout 2015, Wongso had made numerous attempts at self-harm in her Leichhardt apartment in Sydney’s inner-west, including one instance in October during which she penned a suicide note blaming Mr O’Connor for her death.

Judge Gultom found that when Wongso first met up with Mirna and her husband Arif Soemarko during a Jakarta lunch last December she noticed they were “so happy” and something was “triggered”.

Wongso organised a meeting with Mirna at Olivier cafe in Central Jakarta on January 6.

She arrived early and poured cyanide into the Vietnamese iced coffee that was her friend’s favourite drink.

Minutes after sipping it Mirna began frothing at the mouth. She was dead by the end of the day.

In finding Wongso guilty, the judges rejected the evidence of two Australian forensic experts put forward by the defence who argued it was not possible to conclude Mirna had died from cyanide poisoning, as a full autopsy had not taken place.

“I don’t accept this decision because for me, it’s not fair and very one-sided.”
Jessica Wongso

Dr Michael Robertson testified that only a small amount of cyanide had been found in samples from Mirna’s stomach and her death could have been due to other causes.

Wongso, the judges said, was the only one with the means and motive to carry out the murder.

Speaking after the sentence Wongso’s lawyer Otto Hasibuan hit out at some of the findings made by the judges, particularly those that honed in on his client’s appearance.

Pointing to elements that they perceived as dishonest, Judge Gultom pointed out that Wongso had, when giving evidence, worn reading glasses which she had previously never done and criticised her for shedding crocodile tears.

“The judges think that the crying was not pure,” Judge Gultom added.

While the charge of premeditated murder carries the death penalty in Indonesia, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) had helped investigate the case under the proviso that this sentence would not be sought or carried out.

* Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.


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