A couple dubbed by protesters as "Mr and Mrs Evil" were jailed yesterday for what a judge described as "cruel" and "inhumane" treatment of their Indonesian maid over two years.
The District Court heard the pair beat the maid with clothes hangers, shoes and a bicycle chain from 2010 to 2012.
They also tied her up at night, wounded her with a paper cutter and burned her with a clothes iron.
Hospital care worker Catherine Au Yuk-shan, 41, was sentenced to 5 years on two charges of assault causing actual bodily harm and four counts of wounding, three with intent.
Her husband, electrical appliance salesman Tai Chi-wai, 42, got 3 years on one count each of assault causing actual bodily harm and wounding.
But deputy judge So Wai-tak found them not guilty of false imprisonment over an allegation that they left the maid without food or water after tying her to a chair and forcing her to wear a diaper while they went on a five-day vacation.
The judge ruled that many of the 45 injury marks found on the body of Kartika Puspitasari, 30, were unlikely to be self-inflicted. The assaults did not happen occasionally, but were repetitive.
In a courtroom packed with rights activists, Indonesian workers' groups, reporters and representatives of the Indonesian consulate, So described Au as "cruel and vicious."
She took the leading role and used an iron and a cutter to hurt the maid.
So said employers should be patient and tolerant, and not to use violence to solve problems or regard their maids as targets to vent their anger.
For everyone working in Hong Kong should be protected by law, regardless of occupation or nationality.
Rejected, however, were some of the maid's allegations that the judge said were "unbelievable and exaggerations."
The latter included the maid's allegation that her employers forced her to wear transparent plastic bags as clothes as Au was unlikely to allow the maid to appear nearly naked at home.
Protesters outside the court held a placard dubbing the couple "Mr and Mrs Evil" and called on the community to "end the social exclusion of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong."