KUALA LUMPUR: Housewife Yim Pek Ha was sentenced to 18 years jail after she was found guilty of three charges for causing grievous hurt to her former Indonesian maid Nirmala Bonat.
Yim, however, was acquitted of the fourth charge of breaking Nirmala’s nose after hitting it with a steel mug.
Sessions Court Judge Akhtar Tahir, in meting out the deterrent sentence, said the prosecution had proven the case beyond reasonable doubt.
“From the pictures and medical reports, it was proven that Nirmala was indeed abused. The issue was to prove who had caused the injuries to the victim,” said Judge Akhtar on Thursday.
He ruled that Nirmala’s injuries were not self-inflicted as claimed by the defence in spite of forensic expert Dr John Andrew Munro Gall from Melbourne testifying in April that Nirmala’s injuries four years ago were self-inflicted.
“The expert (Dr Gall) never met Nirmala for a checkup. It was clearly shown from his report that he took on the roles of doctor, defense counsel and judge,” he said.
He also pointed out that Yim had nothing else to say about Nirmala except her flaws.
“I can still notice the underlying anger in her (Yim) after three years (since the case started),” he said.
After the verdict was read out, Yim, who was dressed in a white blouse and black skirt, burst into tears as she walked to her husband. Other family members also cried.
Earlier, in mitigation, lead counsel Jagjit Singh said that Yim was a first offender, had no previous conviction, with four young children and that Nirmala had recovered without permanent scars or disfigurement.
However, deputy public prosecutor Raja Rozela Raja Toran said Yim did not appear repentant and had not expressed any remorse during mitigation.
“It is unbelievable that a woman put a hot iron on another woman’s chest. The act is simply inhumane,” she said.
In sentencing Yim, Judge Akhtar said he would have been able to understand if the injury happened just once. But repeated infliction of injuries told another story.
“As for the mitigation, I can only accept the fact that the victim has fully recovered and has no permanent scars although I do not know if the emotional scars remains,” he said.
He added that a deterrent sentence was necessary as the case had garnered much public interest.
Met outside the court, Counsel Jagjit said Yim would file an appeal.
Yim was charged with four counts of voluntarily causing grievous hurt to Nirmala Bonat, 19, with a hot iron, hot water and a metal cup at her house in Villa Putera, Jalan Tun Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, in January, March and April on May 17, 2004.
Each offence under Section 326 of the Penal Code carries a maximum 20 years’ jail term and fine or whipping.
Meanwhile, an official from the Indonesian Embassy Shanti Utami said that Nirmala was currently working in Indonesia “and its good for her as she has suffered a lot.”