SINGAPORE: The Indonesian maid who was acquitted of theft charges after being accused of stealing from her former employer - the Changi Airport Group (CAG) chairman - was cleared of her last remaining charge in the State Courts on Tuesday (Sep 8).
Accompanied by supporters and her pro-bono lawyer Anil Balchandani of Red Lion Circle, 46-year-old Parti Liyani was given a discharge amounting to an acquittal of her fifth charge.
The charge was under the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order & Nuisance) Act, accusing her of having items that she was suspected to have obtained fraudulently.
These include a ValueMax pawnshop ticket, several EZ-Link cards, branded bags and wallets, along with watches and jewellery.
The items were purportedly found on her at the airport in early December 2016, when she returned to Singapore to look for work after the Liew family fired her in October.
READ: Maid acquitted of stealing from Changi Airport Group chairman’s family hid her ordeal from her family
The penalties for such an offence are a jail term of up to a year and a fine of up to S$3,000.
Mr Balchandani asked for all the items in the charge to be returned to Ms Parti, and for fingerprints, photos and any information about Ms Parti to be removed from the criminal registry.
The prosecutor said he would take the discussion on the return of the items "offline", while District Judge Eddy Tham did not allow the second application as he said he was unsure what the basis of it was.
"I believe all the consequences of acquittal (are) followed through," said the judge.
Ms Parti and Mr Balchandani declined comment after the hearing. A spokesperson for HOME said Ms Parti plans to go home to Indonesia once she completes any administrative matters.
Ms Parti had been sentenced in March last year to two years and two months' jail, after a lower court judge convicted her of four counts of theft.
She had contested the charges in a trial that saw Mr Liew Mun Leong, chairman of both CAG and Surbana Jurong, take the witness stand along with his son Mr Karl Liew.
After an appeal process over several months, Mr Balchandani, her lawyer, secured an acquittal in the High Court, with Justice Chan Seng Onn overturning all four convictions on Sep 4.
Justice Chan noted the existence of an "improper motive by members of the Liew family for mounting the allegations" against Ms Parti and a break in the chain of custody of evidence.
Ms Parti had threatened to lodge a complaint with the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) after her employment was terminated suddenly in October 2016.
She had allegedly been asked to clean Mr Karl Liew's home and office several times on top of her employer's home, which are contraventions of MOM regulations.
Ms Parti worked for the family for nine years and had a "cordial relationship" with them, but had disputes with Mr Karl Liew over household chores, said Justice Chan.
He preferred Ms Parti's evidence over Mr Karl Liew's, saying Mr Liew's testimony was "questionable" and shows "a lack of credibility".
Mr Liew Mun Leong testified that he decided to fire Ms Parti in October 2016 after discovering that items had gone missing in the house over the years and that he suspected Ms Parti of theft.
When Mr Karl Liew gave Ms Parti the termination notice, Ms Parti asked for the reason, but was not given one. She allegedly accused him of being a very bad person and said God would punish him, but Mr Karl Liew gave her two hours to pack her things.
She packed her items in big boxes in a rush, intending to have them couriered to Indonesia, before she returned to her home country.
While she was gone, the Liew family checked the boxes and found items that they alleged belonged to them, before lodging a police report.
The family was told by Investigating Officer Tang Ru Long that they were free to use the items that were found in the boxes, save for discarding the items.
The investigating officer said the items, which were the subject of the charges, were not personally seized or taken into custody as he did not wish to result in the "re-victimising" of the family.
After the acquittal, several agencies issued statements on the case, with the Attorney-General's Chambers saying they would study the judgment to assess if any further action should be taken.
READ: Judge's findings ‘raise questions’ that warrant further investigations after maid acquitted of stealing from CAG chairman’s family: AGC
The police also said they noted the High Court judgment and are looking into "several observations" about the police investigations in the case.
MOM said on Sunday that Ms Parti had made a report in October 2017 of illegal deployment by Mr Liew Mun Leong's wife to Mr Karl Liew's residence between September 2016 and October 2016, and to his office around 2012 and 2013.
After investigating the complaint, the ministry found that Mrs Liew had deployed Ms Parti to Mr Karl Liew's house and office on different occasions, and issued a caution to Mrs Liew and an advisory to Mr Karl Liew.
MOM added that it was in consultation with the AGC as to whether "further action, if any, ought to be taken".
"THERE ARE MANY MORE PARTI LIYANIS"
In a statement on his law firm's website, Mr Balchandani said his firm would like to thank "all well-wishers for their concern expressed regarding Ms Parti Liyani’s acquittal".
"A lot has been said regarding counsel’s participation at the trial and at the appeal. Red Lion Circle wishes to state that counsel for Parti Liyani only played a very small part in her acquittal," he wrote.
He also acknowledged the work done by non-government organisations who help foreign domestic workers and others in distress.
"A lawyer may be recognised for and defined by a victory, but never forgets those found guilty due to his ineptitude. There have been and will be many more losses that will define counsel’s career, but the cause will continue because of the hope provided by the NGOs.
"There are many more Parti Liyanis who languish in shelters and our prisons (whose) attention we, as a nation, should turn to. HOME (Humanitarian Organization for Migration Economics) deserves more or almost all the credit regarding Parti Liyani’s acquittal," he wrote.