Judge's findings ‘raise questions’ that warrant further investigations after maid acquitted of stealing from CAG chairman’s family: AGC

Judge's findings ‘raise questions’ that warrant further investigations after maid acquitted of stealing from CAG chairman’s family: AGC

Parti Liyani with her lawyer after being acquitted
Parti Liyani with her lawyer Anil Balchandani outside the High Court on Sep 4, 2020. She was acquitted of stealing from Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family. (Photo: Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics)

SINGAPORE: A High Court judge's findings on a case which saw an Indonesian maid acquitted of stealing from the Changi Airport Group (CAG) chairman's family "raises questions which warrant further investigation", said the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) on Sunday (Sep 6).

Ms Parti Liyani, 46, was sentenced in March 2019 to two years and two months' jail after District Judge Olivia Low convicted her of four counts of theft. The maid was charged with stealing about S$34,000 worth of items from CAG chairman Liew Mun Leong and his family.

On Friday, Justice Chan Seng Onn overturned the convictions and acquitted Ms Parti of all charges, and said that the prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

"AGC will study the judgment to assess what further action, if any, ought to be taken in this case, in the light of (Justice Chan's) comments," the AGC said on Sunday.

READ: Maid acquitted of stealing from Changi Airport Group chairman’s family hid her ordeal from her family

On Friday, Justice Chan said he allowed Ms Parti's appeal against the four charges for several reasons.

"I first observe that in the present case, which involved a voluminous number of items, the proper handling of the evidence by the police and recording of the allegedly stolen items is crucial in order to preserve the chain of custody of the items," said the High Court judge.

"Coupled with the existence of an improper motive by members of the Liew family for mounting the allegations against Parti, I find that the convictions against Parti are unsafe and accordingly acquit her of all the charges."

After her employment was terminated suddenly on Oct 28, 2016 – as the family suspected she had stolen items from them – Ms Parti threatened to lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

The court heard she had been asked to clean Mr Liew Mun Leong's son's home and office on multiple occasions, in addition to her employer's home. This was in contravention of certain MOM regulations, the judgment said.

In acquitting Ms Parti, Justice Chan found that there was reason to believe that the Liew family took the "pre-emptive first step" to terminate Ms Parti's employment suddenly without giving her sufficient time to pack.

This was "in the hope that she would not use the time to make a complaint to the MOM about her illegal deployment to work" for Mr Liew Mun Leong's son, Mr Karl Liew, AGC said of Justice Chan's findings.

READ: Maid acquitted of stealing S$34,000 worth of items from Changi Airport Group chairman's home

The High Court judge also found that Mr Liew Mun Leong and Mr Karl Liew made a police report on Oct 30, 2016 to prevent Ms Parti's return to Singapore to lodge her complaint with MOM, said the AGC on Sunday.

"(Justice Chan) also disbelieved the evidence of several members of the Liew family on various issues," added the AGC.

In response to CNA's queries, the Singapore Police Force said they noted the High Court's judgment. 

"Several observations about (the) police’s investigations have been raised," the force said. "The police are looking into them."

Ms Parti worked for the Liew household from March 2007 until her employment was terminated on Oct 28, 2016. On Dec 2, 2016 she was arrested at Changi Airport upon her return to Singapore to seek employment.

Source: CNA/ic(mi)

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