Australian resident Jessica Kumala Wongso has been convicted of the so-called Jakarta coffee murder and sentenced to 20 years in jail amid dramatic scenes in a Jakarta court overnight.
The 28-year-old was found guilty of lacing her friend Mirna Salihin’s Vietnamese iced coffee with cyanide in an up-market Jakarta cafe on January 6 this year.
Judges said they were satisfied it was the former Sydney woman’s malicious actions which killed her 27-year-old friend.
The trial has gripped the nation since it began in June this year and last night’s verdict, as with much of the trial, was broadcast live on television.
More than 500 police were on hand for security and actions were taken to separate the supporters of the two camps – the Wongso camp and the family and supporters of Mirna.
They wore T-shirts emblazoned with her photograph as show of support.
Wongso escaped the death penalty, which is the maximum for premeditated murder in Indonesia. Prosecutors had demanded a 20-year sentence.
The Australian government sought a guarantee from Indonesian authorities that she would not be sentenced to death in exchange for providing evidence from Australia about the two women’s time in Sydney and about Wongso’s criminal record in Australia.
The court has previously said it was not bound by any such guarantee. Wongso and Mirna Salihin met while both were students at the Billy Blue College of Design in Sydney in 2007. Wongso had gone on to work as a graphic designer at NSW Ambulance and stayed in Sydney while Mirna had returned to Jakarta.
The Judges accepted that the motive was revenge and jealousy after Mirna had told Wongso to dump her then boyfriend, an Australian called Patrick O’Connor. Only months before the murder Mirna had married her sweetheart Arief Soemarko and Wongso had not been invited to the wedding.
The Judges also recounted evidence from Australian police that in 2015 Wongso was depressed and often drunk in Australia, had rammed her car into a Sydney nursing home on one occasion and attempted suicide.
Her former boyfriend in Sydney had also taken out an AVO against her. And the court was read a statement by Wongso’s former boss at NSW Ambulance, who said Wongso had told her she knew exactly how to kill someone and knew the right dose.
On December 1 last year Wongso was fired from her job at NSW Ambulance.
Soon after she arranged to return to her native Indonesia and said she was looking for a job.