INDONESIAN prosecutors have demanded a 20-year jail sentence for Jessica Kumala Wongso, the Australian permanent resident accused of murdering her friend by lacing her coffee with cyanide.
Reports on the high profile case that was heard in the Central Jakarta District Court Wednesday night said prosecutors mooted the harsh sentence after considering testimonies during trial and the fact that the victim – Wayan Mirna Salihin – had been Jessica’s friend.
“It has been proven that the defendant carried out premeditated murder. The defendant’s action is very cruel because the victim was her own friend,” prosecutor Melanie Wuwung was quoted in Sydney Morning Herald as telling the packed courtroom.
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Wayan died on Jan 6 this year after drinking Vietnamese iced coffee that Jessica reportedly bought for her at an upmarket café in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.
According to the claim against Jessica, she carried out the alleged murder after Wayan advised her to leave her then boyfriend, an Australian.
During trial, it was revealed that Jessica had made several attempts to harm herself. Her former boss also reportedly claimed that Jessica had “two personalities” and that at one point in October last year, she complained about not being allowed to go home after she was hospitalized for a self-harm attempt.
“The bastards in the hospital do not allow me to go home and they treat me like a murderer. If I wanted to kill someone I surely know how, I can get a pistol and I know the right dose,” the former boss, Kristie Carter, claimed Jessica had said.
Jessica, however, has denied these charges and the main charge that she had poisoned her friend, with whom she studied with during their stint at the Billy Blue College of Design in Sydney.
Premeditated murder is punishable by death penalty in Indonesia. Local authorities, however, in return for Australia’s assistance in the investigation, have given their assurance that Jessica would not face capital punishment for the alleged crime.
According to reports, the case has received widespread attention in Indonesia, with stations often broadcasting trial sessions live on local television.
SMH’s report also said that cafes in Jakarta after the incident even received a spike in demand for Vietnamese iced coffees.
Three Australian experts called to testify during the trial have, however, called into question the entire premise of the case, which centers on alleged murder by cyanide poisoning.
Toxicology reports had apparently tested negative to cyanide in the victim’s fluid, bile, liver and urine, only 70 minutes after her death. Only a small amount of the poison was reportedly found in her stomach several days later.
“These (toxicology) results show there is no evidence of cyanide ingestion,” Australian forensic toxicologist Michael Robertson told the Central Jakarta District Court last month, SMH reported.
But on Wednesday, prosecutors urged the judges to dismiss the evidence provided by the defence witnesses.
They claimed the poison was not detected in Wayan’s body because it had been rapidly absorbed and urged the court to consider Carter’s testimony.
The defence team is expected to respond to the sentencing request next week.