Indonesian court to proceed with trial in cyanide murder

AP News
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Posted: Jun 28, 2016 6:41 AM
Indonesian court to proceed with trial in cyanide murder

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian court decided Tuesday to proceed with the trial of a former resident of Australia accused of murdering a friend by lacing her coffee with cyanide.

The 27-year-old defendant, Jessica Kumala Wongso, was charged with plotting the Jan. 6 poisoning of Wayan Mirna Salihin because of the victim's advice that she sever her relationship with her troublesome boyfriend. The two were former classmates in Australia.

"The indictment submitted by the state prosecutors has clearly, accurately and comprehensively explained the murder," said presiding judge Kisworo. "Therefore the objections of the defense lawyers could not be accepted."

Wongso's lawyers have ridiculed the prosecution's contention that Salihin's advice that Wongso end her relationship led to the murder. They said the explanation "could not be accepted by common sense."

Salihin collapsed and died after drinking coffee at a Jakarta cafe where the two met along with another friend. Police say laboratory tests showed the drink contained cyanide.

The case has riveted Indonesia for months and attracted attention in Australia because Wongso was a permanent resident and studied in Sydney.

Police have struggled to bring the case to trial as prosecutors deferred it several times due to insufficient evidence. It was accepted after Indonesian investigators gained additional information from the Australian Federal Police.

Wongso is charged with premeditated murder, a capital crime in Indonesia, but Indonesia has promised not impose the death penalty in exchange for the help from Australia, which opposes the death penalty.

The trial is to resume July 12 with the testimony of witnesses presented by prosecutors.