BBC News

HK couple get jail terms for torture of Indonesian maid

media captionJuliana Liu: "The judge accused them of cruel and inhumane treatment"

A Hong Kong couple have been given prison sentences for repeated attacks on their Indonesian maid.

The court heard that they beat her repeatedly and burnt her with an iron among other forms of abuse.

She eventually managed to escape the couple's residence and seek refuge at the Indonesian consulate.

Representatives of some of Hong Kong's 300,000 domestic workers were at the court to highlight what they see as a lack of protection.

Beaten with bicycle chain

The maid, Kartika Puspitasari, told the court that she had been subjected to repeated abuse and humiliation during her two years of employment.

She said she had been beaten with a bicycle chain and clothes hangers and attacked with a paper cutter.

The judge described the attacks as repeated and continual. But he did not accept all the evidence, rejecting testimony that she had been tied to a chair for five days while the couple had gone on holiday to Thailand.

He said the case could damage Hong Kong's reputation as a safe destination for migrant workers.

The husband, Tai Chi-wai, was sentenced to three years and three months in prison for assault and wounding. His wife, Catherine Au, was sentenced to five and a half years for repeated attacks.

Activists campaigning for the rights of domestic workers in Hong Kong have protested against a requirement that they live at the homes of their employers.

They say it leaves them vulnerable to abuse.