A Malaysian couple has been charged with the murder of the family's 26-year-old Indonesian maid, a lawyer said Thursday, in the country's latest case of alleged abuse against foreign workers.
Indonesia recently promised to lift a 2009 ban on sending maids to Malaysia after the neighbors inked a new deal for better working conditions to curb abuse and torture.
Lawyer Guok Ngek Seong said Fong Kong Meng, 55, and his wife, Teoh Ching Yen, 53, were charged Wednesday in a magistrate's court with killing their maid, Isti Komariyah.
Guok, who is representing Fong, said Isti had worked for the couple since July 2010. The court set July 18 for a mention of the case, which is expected to be transferred to the high court, he said, declining to give further details.
The New Straits Times newspaper said Isti, who had bruises and scratch marks on her body and forehead, was declared dead on arrival at a hospital June 5.
Indonesian Embassy officials have said they are keeping a close watch on the case.
Indonesia banned maids from going to Malaysia in June 2009 amid an outcry over a series of abuse cases by Malaysian employers. Indonesian officials say hundreds complain every year of mistreatment, overwork and unpaid salaries.
Last year, a 36-year-old Malaysian man was sentenced to death for killing his 40-year-old maid, who was found beaten, starved and locked in a bathroom in one of the worst cases of abuse.
It was the first time a Malaysian was sentenced to death for killing an Indonesian maid. Indonesian diplomats hailed the verdict as a sign that abuse of foreign domestic workers must stop.
The two neighbors signed a new pact May 31, offering better protection for some 230,000 Indonesians working as maids in Malaysia.