Singapore, Jan 20 (IANS) An Indian woman accused of abusing her Indonesian domestic help and committing forgery has been given a discharge, amounting to an acquittal on all of her charges in Singapore.
This means that Ketaki Rai, 36, an Indian national and Singapore permanent resident, cannot be charged again with the same offences, The Straits Times reported.
District Judge Ronald Gwee gave the decision on Thursday after the domestic help, Susi Rimasari, left Singapore before the start of the trial.
Noting that Susi was an unwilling witness, Judge Gwee said the situation had put the accused people at a disadvantage.
The accused, Gwee said, should be entitled to have the accuser come forward in court to be open to cross-examination.
Defence lawyer Amarjit Singh Sidhu told the court that Ketaki employed Susi on January 19, 2011, to take care of her two sons and perform household chores.
Ketaki, who was accused of slapping Susi once in 2015 and another time in 2016, had earlier faced two counts each of assault and forgery.
According to The Straits Times, Ketaki had submitted a forged three-page document to Ministry of Manpower in 2016, comprising monthly salary acknowledgements for June 2015 to May 2016, purportedly signed off by Susi.
She was also accused of working together with two other Indians -- Varsha Ray and Ahjay Rai Lalhar -- by allegedly making a false one-page apology letter, purportedly signed by Susi between January 1 and September 12, 2017.
Ray and Lalhar, who were accused of forgery, were also given a discharge by the court.
As per the court documents, Ketaki is married to Lalhar's brother, while Ray is Lalhar's wife.
"Save for scolding Susi whenever she did not do a good job in caring for her sons or household chores, Ketaki denies causing any physical harm to Susi," defence lawyer Sidhu told the court.
He said that Susi left Ketaki's place at around 5 am on June 13, 2016 and sought help at a shelter, where she alleged that she had been physically abused and has not been paid her dues. "(Susi's) non-appearance in court has caused irremediable prejudice to the accused," Sidhu said in his submissions, adding that it would be unsafe to convict Ketaki, Lalhar, and Ray.
"(Susi's) evidence cannot be tested under the scrutiny of cross-examination," he added.
Ketaki could have been jailed for up to three years and fined up to $7,500 for each charge had she been convicted