Australian Indonesian accused of murder; Death penalty on the cards

Jessica Kumala Wongso is accused of killing her 27-year-old friend Wayan Mirna Salihin in January with a poisoned Vietnamese ice coffee at a popular Jakarta restaurant.

The Indonesian nationals had studied together in Australia.

It has been revealed that Jessica, her parents and two siblings have been permanent residents of Australia since emigrating from Indonesia about eight years ago.

The family lives in Sydney.

On Friday, prosecutors declared the investigation complete and Jessica was handed over to them amid a crush of shouting local media.

Trailing behind her were two policemen carrying the brief against her and a box which contains new information provided by the AFP.

The Australian Federal Police agreed to assist with the investigation after they were assured by Indonesia that the death penalty would not be “sought nor carried out”.

It was a position that Jakarta Attorney Office spokesman Waluyo refused to publicly concede on Friday, saying it was still “possible” she would face the death penalty.

“It depends on facts found in the trial later,” he said.

In a statement from the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, a spokesperson reiterated that the “Indonesian government has given an assurance to the Australian Government that the death penalty will not be sought, nor carried out in relation to the alleged offending”.

“Australian Federal Police continue to assist the Indonesian National Police with its investigation … For operational reasons it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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Wayan Mirna Salihin died from suspected cyanide poisoning. Her friend, known as Jessica Kumala, has been arrested in relation to Mirna’s death. Source: Facebook

News.com.au reports that A source close to the family said that Jessica was on holidays in Indonesia with her parents and was due to return to work as a graphic designer in Sydney just weeks after her arrest.

Speaking outside the office, Jessica’s lawyer Yudi Wibowo told reporters the AFP had given local authorities information about an alleged quarrel between Jessica and her then-boyfriend — known only as “Patrick” — while they were living in Australia.

Mr Wibowo claimed “Patrick” had reported her to police, because he was “afraid of being reported first”.

“She (Jessica) told me they had a quarrel … her boyfriend had debt. She asked him about the money he owed to her … that’s all,” Mr Wibowo told reporters.

He said the AFP had also received reports of Jessica crashing her car into a nursing home in August last year in Sydney.

But Mr Wibowo said he was doubtful the new information could be used during her trial.

In a case that has dominated local press, Jessica is accused of killing 27-year-old Wayan Mirna Salihin, with whom she studied in Australia — first at Billy Blue College in Sydney and later at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne in 2008.

Jessica met up with Mirna and their friend Hani on January 6, during a trip home to Indonesia in January.

It is alleged she laced Mirna’s Vietnamese iced coffee with cyanide.

Moments after sipping it Mirna collapsed and began convulsing. She was confirmed dead a short time later in hospital.

Prosecutors will now have 110 days to prepare the indictment against Jessica and hand it to Central Jakarta District Court.

Jessica, who continues to maintain her innocence, has been taken to the women’s penitentiary, Pondok Bambu Prison in Jakarta to await trial.

 

 

Dale Bothe

AusRealNews.com.au editor

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