A series of cases involving the abuse of Indonesian maids by their Malaysian employers has strained ties between the Southeast Asian neighbors. Indonesia this year lifted a three-year ban on sending maids to Malaysia after the countries agreed to better protect the workers, including giving them one day off per week.
Prosecutor Chuah Shyue Chien said Mohamad Shukur Suradi, 28, and his wife, Daeng Norulasyikin Bachok, 27, pleaded not guilty Friday to causing grievous harm to their 21-year-old maid, Marsini, who like many Indonesians uses one name.
Chuah alleged that the couple used a knife, a golf club, a clothes hanger and a belt to hit Marsini and scalded her with hot oil and water between July and Sept. 23 at their home in southern Johor state.
The car salesman and his teacher wife also were charged under the Anti-Human Trafficking Act with exploiting Marsini by making her work long hours and working against her will, Chuah said.
They face up to 35 years in jail and whipping if convicted for both offenses.
Chuah said Marsini, who started working for the couple in January, managed to escape from her employers and lodged a police report. He said she is currently in a shelter home to nurse her injuries.
The couple has been freed on bail, with a court date set for Oct. 16.
Indonesian Embassy officials could not be reached immediately for comment.
More than 200,000 Indonesian maids work in Malaysia. Indonesian officials say hundreds complain every year of mistreatment, overwork and unpaid salaries.