Singapore, policeman’s wife admits to torture and murder of Burmese maid

The woman also starved, suffocated and burnt Piang Ngaih Don with a hot iron. Gaiyathiri Murugayan now faces life imprisonment. Defence attorney: the accused suffers from depression. The police suspend her husband. There are several cases of abuse of foreign workers.

Singapore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The wife of a police officer has admitted that she starved, tortured and then killed the Burmese maid who worked for them. Prosecutors are seeking life imprisonment for the "evil and inhuman" behaviour of Gaiyathiri Murugayan.

The victim, Piang Ngaih Don, died of suffocation in June 2016. At the time of death, she weighed 24 kg. The 24-year-old moved to Singapore in 2015, immediately finding work in the Murugayan home. According to trial reports, her employer tortured the young maid because she found her "slow, unhygienic" and because she "ate too much".

Images taken by the house's CCTV cameras show Piang's daily attacks. Murugayan (and her mother) burned her with a hot iron and threw her around "like a rag doll". Her daily meal consisted of a slice of bread soaked in water, cold food or a little rice.

The defence asked for a reduced sentence for Murugayan. The lawyers tried to ease the position of the accused by arguing that at the time of the murder she was suffering from depression and obsessive compulsive disorder. Murugayan's mother and her husband were also accused. Kelvin Chelvam was suspended from the police in 2016.

Josephine Teo, the city-state labour minister, called the killing of Piang "chilling". She highlighted the limitations of the control systems of working conditions; the employment agency had made several visits to the murdered maid's place of employment, without reporting irregularities.

In recent years there have been several cases of abuse of foreign domestic workers in Singapore. About 250,000 foreign domestic workers work in the city, mainly from the Philippines, Indonesia and Myanmar. In 2017, a couple ended up in jail for starving their Filipino worker; in 2019 another couple was imprisoned for abusing a Myanmar maid.